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Bank helps downtown revitalization effort

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A construction crew continues to work on the new Southern Bank on Wednesday in downtown Rocky Mount. The bank is scheduled to open between May and June 2016.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

The new three-story Southern Bank building in downtown Rocky Mount is expected to open between May and June 2016.

Southern Bank Executive Director Michael Bryant said minor inclement weather in the spring caused construction to get a little off track, but he added things are progressing on target with the scheduled completion of the more than 15,000-square-foot building on the corner of Sunset and Church streets.

The new Southern Bank facility will house a little more than 50 employees from the bank’s mortgage operation unit and customer contact center.

“It’s a bigger building than I actually originally realized it’s going to be, and our contractors (Turn-Key Contractors) are doing a good job of getting the building up,” Bryant said. “We’re actually building it a little larger than our current need, so we will have the capabilities of expanding in the future without having to build another building. We’re hoping over time to hire more employees.”

In addition to the construction of the new building, Bryant said Southern Bank plans to renovate the building beside the new facility once the first project is completed.

“The overall cost will be a more than $5 million investment in downtown Rocky Mount,” he said.

Bryant said Southern Bank is showing its commitment to help the ongoing effort of revitalizing downtown Rocky Mount. Southern Bank has been a part of the Rocky Mount community since 1993 through the acquisition of the former Citizen Savings Bank.

“This is probably the first brand-new construction in downtown on the private sector side in about 20 years, and the building will be among the largest of the bank’s branches,” Bryant said. “My hope is this will be a catalyst along with the investment by our local government that will bring more businesses into downtown that want to build and occupy space down here. We’re building this facility for our use – but we hope over the next decade that we will see continued growth in downtown, and we hope to be apart of that.”

Bryant acknowledged he has witnessed the deterioration of downtown during his more than 25 years in the Rocky Mount area.

But investments by the city in projects such as the train station, Imperial Centre, Douglas Block and Streetscape during the past 10 years have provided the groundwork for future development in downtown, he said.

Edgecombe Community College’s 45,000-square-foot new Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center on its Rocky Mount campus is scheduled to be completed this month and open in January.

Rocky Mount officials also have announced an area north of the Douglas Block as the planned site of the proposed 175,000-square-foot downtown community facility.

Also, construction continues on the Rocky Mount Brewmill, a planned mixed-use redevelopment project on the site of the former Rocky Mount Mills on Falls Road.

Brewmill officials said recently Rocky Mount native Eric Ghiloni’s Koi Pond Brewing Co. will soon be the first tenant opening up in the Brewmill.

“There is a lot of positive momentum in downtown and the whole community of Rocky Mount,” Bryant said. “We all just got to continue to do our part and make sure the right decisions are made in the right area.

“We’re very pleased with our position in regards to our market share in the Twin Counties. But we hope to continue to grow and hope our community grows as well.”

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