SILER CITY — The building once housing Carter Bank& Trust in downtown Siler City is being repurposed by town government.
The town of Siler City has negotiated a deal to purchase the former bank building, located at 101 E. Raleigh St., for $100,000, according to a document provided in an agenda packet for commissioners posted on Friday. The structure, owned by Peoples National Bank, has a tax value of $257,709. It’s been vacant since Carter Bank & Trust closed on Oct. 19, according to Town Manager Hank Raper.
The town began talking to representatives of the building’s owners in January about acquiring the former bank.
“We’re always pursuing new opportunities or ventures to provide better quality services to residents and doing that as efficiently and effectively as we possibly can,” Raper told the News + Record Monday. “Carter Bank reached out to us originally, and we asked a few questions … It’s a big building, and that’s something we’d want to entertain, if the price was reasonable.”
The town plans to use the building for additional office space for administrative offices — including possibly its Parks and Recreation or Community Development departments. Raper said as the town continues to grow, the amount of staff and services for residents will also need to grow.
With the purchase of Carter Bank, Raper said he and staff are hoping to get in front of the inevitable growth coming to town hall.
“It’s not a matter of if Siler City is going to grow — it’s a matter of when and how soon,” he said. “There’s no doubt we’re going to need the space, but getting an opportunity to get in and get something that’s already built and well constructed at a very reasonable price, before prices rise, gives us the time to not only get in the building, but to make the improvements that are necessary.”
The building is more than 6,500 square feet in size and completed maintenance on its roof and HVAC last year by the bank’s owner, according to Raper. With the bulk of crucial work completed to make the building move-in ready, Raper said only cosmetic renovations remain.
“The building is in good shape, structurally, but it looks like the ‘70s if you walk in,” he said. “It’s got that beige, tan wallpaper, some thick plush carpet to match and the spackled ceilings, so it needs some work — but it’s on the cosmetic side.”
Raper said he’s leaning toward relocating Parks and Recreation to the new location so the public can regain access to the Fitz Community Center, where the department operates now. He also said he was considering moving Community Development Director Jack Meadows and his staff there, too.
In the futurex, Raper said it may become necessary to move more departments to East Raleigh Street as the town’s population and number of employees increase.
“As the town grows, it can really be a complex space,” he said. “As the town grows, Town Hall is going to have to have fewer and fewer departments because the departments that are here are going to get bigger … There’s nothing about that building (Carter Bank) that’s set up so we can only serve this certain department — it can become usable by many different departments over a long period of time.”
Raper said this allows town staff to get a head start on preparing for inevitable changes coming to the town’s departments and employees. The town doesn’t need the extra space “today or tomorrow,” he said, but it will become necessary as people and industries — including Wolfspeed, already working to develop its facility at the Chatham Advanced Manufacturing site off U.S. Hwy. 64 — make their way to west Chatham.
“The town is always looking for proactive solutions to solve the problems of today and tomorrow,” he said. “We don’t want to have to say, ‘We need to go build a building because our staff has nowhere to go.’ You already have the site already bought, renovated and operational and getting it done now will save the town a lot of money down the road.”
There isn’t an official start date for the cosmetic repairs to start on the town’s new property, but Raper said renovations should occur in a six- to 12 month-long timeframe. If supply chain shortages or change orders placed on the projects, it could take even longer to complete the renovations.
“If you start and you have all of your supplies and materials on time or all your contractors come and everything goes according to plan, it could only last six months,” Raper said. “But if work is done wrong and has to be redone, or we get in there and something Carter Bank told us was great about this building isn’t right, where we’ll have to do a change order to the project, will result in a delay.”
Raper said this is a step in the right direction for the town, and he hopes this proactive purchase will help set the town up for success when adding staff in the future.
“It’s a long-term investment,” he said. “It’s something we’re really excited about acquiring and utilizing, but we’re not moving in tomorrow. We’re gonna take our time and make sure we do this project right.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HeedenTaylor.