The building on the square which has been the long-term home of Regions Bank is being sold in an online auction, although bank officials say their lease will continue regardless of who purchases the building.
The white building on the west side of the square was built in 1965. The local bank which occupied it was known as First National Bank; it was later purchased by Union Planters, which was then purchased by Regions. The bank sold the building at some point but continued to occupy portions of it as a tenant.
The building also includes a portion of, and the entrance to, the Bobo, Hunt and White law offices, which occupy space in a former Masonic lodge next door, connected to the bank by a second-floor walkway.
Brian O'Meara of Regions Bank said the sale of the building won't affect the bank's lease or its local operations.
"This actually happens quite frequently," said O'Meara.
According to sale listings on several web sites, the bank has about 7 1/2 years left on its lease. The building is listed as having 22,131 square feet of total space and about 57 percent vacancy. It has a starting bid of $200,000. The online auction is scheduled to start on Monday, according to the web site auction.com.
In 2009, and again earlier this year, some county commissioners discussed the possibility of purchasing the building and using it for additional courtroom space, to address overcrowding and security issues at Bedford County Courthouse across the street.
County Mayor Eugene Ray, asked Tuesday night whether the county had any plans to bid on the building, seemed taken aback by the question but did not indicate any definite plans by the county. The bank building hasn't been mentioned at the most recent meetings of the county commission or its standing committees.
The county is currently facing a severe jail overcrowding problem, and if the county ends up forced to build a new jail, one possibility would be to build a jail and justice center, as some other communities have done, combining jail and courtroom facilities under one roof, eliminating the costs and security issues associated with transporting inmates to and from court. But some local merchants have objected to any proposal that would move the court system away from the square, saying that it would be a devastating blow to the downtown business district.