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November 25, 2019

Town closes $2.2-million purchase of former bank

File Photos/Lawrence Emerson
By next Christmas, Warrenton could move Town Hall to the former bank building at 21 Main St.
The municipal staff has outgrown the former bank building that has served as Warrenton’s Town Hall since the 1970s.
Warrenton’s new Town Hall could open on Main Street by this time next year.

The town on Thursday, Nov. 21, completed its $2.2-million purchase of the former BB&T bank at 21 Main St.

The North Carolina-based bank ceased operations there July 27 last and put the 30,000-square-foot building on the market for $3.5 million.

Private investors and Fauquier’s board of supervisors considered buying the building and its parking lot, which sit on 1.25 acres along Main, First and Horner streets.

The county late last year offered $2.5 million, and BB&T countered, lowering its price to $3.3 million. But the supervisors walked away.

Warrenton officials in the spring opened negotiations with a $2-million offer.

After continued negotiations, the bank in July accepted a $2.3-million offer from the bank. But, BB&T this fall lowered the purchase price another $100,000 after the town’s research found asbestos and subpar computer networking in the building.

Warrenton officials will finalize blueprints and hire contracts for renovations early next year, Town Manager Brandie Schaeffer said.

The town council on Nov. 12 agreed to borrow up to $4.1 million from BB&T to finance the building’s purchase and renovations. The town will pay annual interest of 2.74 percent on the loan, which has a 20-year term.

Capital One, The Fauquier Bank, First Internet Bank and Sterling Bank also submitted proposals, with interest rates ranging from 2.72 to 3.25 percent.

> Document at bottom of story

Because of flexibility, the town’s consultants from Richmond-based Davenport & Co. recommended the BB&T proposal. Warrenton could pay off the BB&T loan without penalty after 10 years.

But, Councilmen Sean Polster (At-large) and Jerry Wood (Ward 1) objected to the “optics” of borrowing the money from BB&T, which agreed to lower the purchase price.

Mr. Polster and Mr. Wood dissented in the 4-2 vote to accept the BB&T financing proposals.

Kevin Carter (Ward 5), who serves on The Fauquier Bank board of directors, abstained.

When renovated, the 21 Main St. building will allow Warrenton to consolidate town government in one place. The town rents space for some employees.

The building last summer ceased to house a financial institution after 108 years

The Peoples National Bank of Warrenton opened on Main Street in 1910. The bank replaced that structure in 1929 and expanded it 26 years later. A 1987 addition roughly doubled the building’s size.

In 1994, Peoples merged with Winchester-based F&M Bank. Eight years later BB&T acquired F&M.

BB&T in 2004 built a large, modern office at 236 W. Lee Highway in Warrenton.

It remains uncertain what will happen to the old Town Hall at 18 Court St.

In the early 1990s, Warrenton planned to build a new Town Hall and to donate the old building for a community arts center.

But, those plans changed and the town continued to operate there.

Businessman Edward L. Stevenson in 1973 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.

Town Hall Financing RFP Res... by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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