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May 14, 2019

Warrenton wants BB&T building for Town Hall

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The BB&T building has 30,000 square feet of office space — three times that of the existing Town Hall.
The BB&T building provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the town to consider.
— Mayor Carter Nevill
BB&T Main Street Building
• Where: 21 Main St., Warrenton

• Size: 30,000 square, including unfinished basement.

• Land: 1.25 acres, zoned commercial

• Parking: About 45 spaces

• Owner: BB&T, Winston-Salem, N.C.

• List price: $3.5 million.

• Assessed value: $4.1 million for real estate tax purposes.

• Details: BB&T closed the branch in July; Warrenton Realtor Bill Chipman has shown the property to a variety prospects; the bank last year rejected the county’s $2.5-million offer.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Warrenton officials want to move Town Hall to Main Street.

The town council Tuesday night voted unanimously enter negotiations for purchase of the vacant BB&T building at 21 Main St.

Warrenton will offer $2 million for the 30,000-square-foot structure on 1.25 acres at First and Main streets. The proposed contract would give the town 90 days to conduct a feasibility study for using the building as municipal offices. The town will make a $25,000 deposit to secure the study period.

If the deal goes through, Town Hall would move from 18 Court St. In 1973, businessman Edward L. Stevenson donated the former Fauquier National Bank headquarters to Warrenton for its municipal offices.

But, the 1925 building’s 9,250 square feet of usable office space and inefficient design have failed to keep up with the town’s needs, according to Warrenton officials.

“The historical bank building has provided Town Hall with a wonderful location and beautiful architecture for over four decades,” Mayor Carter Nevill said in a prepared statement Tuesday night. “However, it is not a building that can be expanded to meet the growing needs of the town and its residents.

“The BB&T building provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the town to consider. Keeping services located in the heart of town, while adding the additional bonuses of parking, ADA accessibility and one-stop customer service would be an enormous benefit for the citizens.”

The town has rented additional office and storage space. Warrenton also needs more secure space for computer servers on which a variety of financial and management systems depend, according to town officials.

“Add to this the inadequate space for citizens during public hearings, resulting in seating outside when council chambers exceed fire code, the lack of an elevator, severely limited office space that does not meet building code and general deferred maintenance resulting in the current Town Hall’s inability to efficiently and properly serve its residents and businesses,” Town Manager Brandie Schaeffer wrote in the statement. “Consolidating into one building would afford residents a higher quality customer experience, serving all their needs in one location.”

Warrenton officials think it could cost $200,000 to prepare the BB&T building for immediate use and perhaps another $1 million for extensive conversion.

“Still, it would cost far less than building a new Town Hall,” Ms. Schaeffer said Tuesday night.

Warrenton officials would consider selling other properties — including the existing Town Hall — if the plan moves ahead.

The study will include a comprehensive review of the structure, its systems and potential renovations.

Fauquier’s board of supervisors last year considered the building — first for a new library location and later for office space.

BB&T in December rejected the county’s $2.5 million offer, $1 million less than the asking price.

For tax purposes, the county values the property at $4.1 million.

But, six months later, the building remains on the market, while BB&T moves toward its acquisition of SunTrust, scheduled to close by year’s end — a move that will encourage bankers to cut costs and “non-performing” assets.

The Winston Salem, N.C.-based bank has a history of selling closed branch buildings a deep discounts, as it did recently in Remington.

BB&T in July closed its Main Street office, which had housed a bank since the Peoples National Bank of Warrenton opened there in 1910.

On and off for decades, Warrenton has considered a new Town Hall.

The former Court Street bank building’s soaring, two-story lobby remains intact, divided as office and meeting space with a curved wall and cubicles. Building inspectors and planning/zoning staffers occupy the basement, where the huge vault houses municipal documents.

One of downtown’s iconic structures, Town Hall features large Palladian windows in a brick and granite facade.

Warrenton officials in the early 1990s evaluated options for Town Hall’s replacement. In addition to considering new construction, the town hired local architect James “J” Tucker to survey existing buildings for potential adaptive reuse.
One proposal called for construction of a new municipal building and donation of the existing Town Hall for a performing arts center that a nonprofit organization would own and manage.
Ultimately, the council about 20 years ago abandoned the idea of replacing Town Hall — then estimated to cost $4 million — and funded the 2002 construction of a new police station on Carriage House Lane.

The focus shifted to planning and construction of the $24-million Warrenton Aquatics and Recreation Facility, which opened in 2007.

Contact Editor Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.
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Sven622 · May 17, 2019 at 4:51 pm
I think it was rebuilt not too long ago
EDinNC · May 17, 2019 at 4:22 pm
"BB&T in July closed its Main Street office, which had housed a bank since the Peoples National Bank of Warrenton opened there in 1910."
Just how old is this "new" building?
Sven622 · May 15, 2019 at 5:04 pm
Excellent idea!
rally39 · May 15, 2019 at 1:03 pm
Great idea. Please tell me the $25 K deposit is refundable in the event the feasibility study doesn’t pan out. Curious as to what will become of the current town hall. It’s not exactly a multipurpose building.
TFinn · May 15, 2019 at 9:54 am
I think this is a wonderful idea for the Warrenton Town offices. Solves two issues....more room and keeps offices downtown.

This building has had different uses over the years. The building is still realativly new so accomadating the town makes great sense.

I agree with the Mayor.....not too often opportunities like this pass by for the town to improve working conditions for the town employees as well as utilize buildings already in place downtown.
Mark House · May 15, 2019 at 6:46 am
Great idea, time to move the offices and consolidate everything in one place. Win-win for the town.
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