First Bank to close West Innes Street branch

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 24, 2013

SALISBURY — First Bank will close its main Salisbury branch on West Innes Street in March, a branch vice president confirmed Tuesday.
The bank sent letters to customers this week informing them of the change. Accounts, the letter said, along with safe deposit boxes, will be transferred from the 215 W.?Innes St. location to the other Salisbury branch at 1525 Jake Alexander Blvd.
“Basically our lease is expiring at the end of March and we’ve decided not to renew the lease,” First Bank City Executive Jeff Wetmore said.
Accounts at the main branch will transfer after it closes on March 21, 2014. That is also the day bank officials plan to move all safe deposit boxes to the Jake Alexander Boulevard branch.
An ATM at the main branch will also no longer work after noon on March 21. The last night deposit at the branch will be March 20.
Wetmore, a Rowan County native, was hired to the city executive post earlier this year. He said the decision to consolidate branches was made by the bank’s executive committee.
David Jordan, a longtime member of the Maxwell Chambers Trust, which owns the First Bank property, said the decision to close was made after negotiations fell through.
“We tried to negotiate with them to lease them the building, but we couldn’t get together a figure that they thought and we thought was fair,” Jordan said. “They haven’t officially notified us as of yet, but I’m aware of it because I’ve talked to some people who are aware of it.”
Jordan said the trust will market the First Bank property and could even look to split the parcel for another business.
“The executive committee is going to meet in early 2014 and start making a plan for actively marketing the building,” he said.
Along with First Bank, the block owned by the Maxwell Chambers Trust also includes the building used by the former Wrenn House and a parking lot leased by the Salisbury Post.
First Bank has been responsible for upkeep of the bell tower, Jordan said, and some surrounding property along West Innes and South Jackson streets.
Jordan said the trust and future tenant of the property will need to come up with a plan for restoring the bell tower, which closed about two years ago due to hazardous conditions.
“Substantial work is going to have to be done on the bell tower in early 2014,”?Jordan said. “The trust and interested parties will be looking at how to get this work done. The tower needs substantial work when you get up in it, and the roof and holding up the brick and stone on the outside. Just a number of things need to be done on the bell tower. First Bank has not given it much attention over the years.”
If there’s no tenant ready to move in by March, Jordan said, the trust will be responsible for upkeep of the properties.
“Our trust will be charged with the responsibility of keeping up the properties, and obviously that presents some other issues that the trust will have to deal with,”?he said.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.