Please speak to your county commissioner re: the purchasing of Regions Bank, which goes up for auction Monday. Let them know they have a very important decision to make which will affect us all now and in the future.
The Regions Bank building can provide much needed space for county offices which otherwise may be forced to move to another location. This can bring a downward spiral not only to the Shelbyville Square but to the town as well. (One example is Manchester; have you driven around their square in the last few years?)
Besides contributing to the downtown economy, the public buildings add to the authenticity of a town. They make it more than just a shopping center and more of a town center. A number of large (retail) developers are putting civic uses into their developments as an insurance policy.
Monetary considerations aside, it's important to have the government leadership of a community based in the downtown because they can work together there, benefiting the community as a whole. Finally if the downtown looks empty and neglected any business that's considering moving to the community will interpret this as a lack of leadership and not come here.
I am one of the local merchants mentioned in the article concerning the sale of the Regions Bank building. Yes, other communities have built justice centers removed from their squares, and their city courthouse squares now have empty buildings and are dead!
The town squares where the county justice system has expanded into buildings on the square are thriving and alive. The justice system provides much needed traffic and activity on our public square, and without it, the stores and restaurants would suffer greatly. It would be a shame to lose the tax revenue and jobs generated by the businesses on the square.
I was told by a county official that I would not be hurt if the justice system moves because "those criminals are not my customers." Everyone who comes to the courthouse is NOT a criminal! Everyday people come in my store because they are conducting some type of business in the courthouse or with the justice system.
I do realize there is still a lease left on the Regions Bank Building, but there are other options - The lease can be bought out, or the county can continue to collect lease payments while they occupy and use some of the 57% vacant areas of the bank building.
It seems like it would be a great investment for our county.
The judges and attorneys also prefer to keep the justice system on the square. Feasibility studies have been done in the past showing the Regions Bank Building could be used as a justice center at a much lower cost to the taxpayers than building a new justice center.
The public square is the heart of our city. It needs to be attractive for visitors, industry prospects, and potential new residents.
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