Bedford County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday night to purchase the Regions Bank building on the square from State Rep. Pat Marsh for $315,000, plus any closing costs. The money will be taken from the county's proceeds from selling the former Bedford County Nursing Home.
Marsh bought it earlier this month in an online auction and has offered to sell it to the county at his own cost, plus closing costs -- or, if possible, Marsh will simply transfer his purchase contract over to the county.
The county had an interest in the building but had little time to meet publicly before the online auction at which it was sold last month, and the county didn't want to tip its hand by publicly discussing what it was willing to pay.
Commissioners didn't discuss any specific plans for the building Tuesday night, but in the past they've discussed using it to deal with an overcrowding problem at Bedford County Courthouse across the street from the bank building.
Bedford County Courthouse has been suffering both severe overcrowding, to the point that officials had to prominently post each courtroom's rated capacity. On some days, there are multiple court proceedings taking place at the same time. The courthouse also has security problems, with various opinions having been expressed over the years about whether it can be made secure.
The county has, in the past, discussed the idea of building courtrooms in the Regions building to relieve some of the overcrowding at the courthouse.
Regions Bank remains a tenant in the building and bank officials said last month they plan to remain there regardless of who purchased it. The bank operates on the first floor of the building and from a drive-through branch behind it. According to sale listings last month on several web sites, the bank has about 7 1/2 years left on its lease.
The building was listed as having 22,131 square feet of total space and about 57 percent vacancy.