Statesboro City Manager Frank Parker announced Wednesday the city’s interest in purchasing a recently emptied bank building to serve as a site for a new courtroom and select court offices.
Following an executive session, during a scheduled City Council meeting in City Hall, Parker said councilmen authorized him to enter into negotiations with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to discuss costs for purchasing the former First Southern National Bank building located on South Main Street.
A “For Sale” sign has been affixed to the 1.71-acre site since Heritage Bank of the South vacated the 16,618 square foot building little more than one month ago.
The FDIC-owned building has been listed by local real estate agent Sam DiPolito for an appraised $2.3 million.
“We have made a preliminary offer for the First Southern National Bank building,” Parker said — mentioning that a price for the building is still being negotiated and details of the offer will not be disclosed. “We have done engineering work on (the building) in the past and feel it serves our needs.”
“We were going to, at one point, tear down the old Police Department building and build a new municipal court building, because our current facilities are not large enough,” he said. But, “we think we can build within (the South Main facility) for much cheaper than it would cost to build a new building. It would, in essence, save the city money.”
According to Parker, the new building, if purchased, would house a new courtroom and multiple court offices.
“The first floor would be turned into a new courtroom and new court offices for the judge and court solicitor,” he said. “And we are discussing future uses for the second floor.”
Councilman Travis Chance said the purchase, if affordable, would provide an attractive alternative to the existing plan for reconstructing the current municipal court facility located on South College Street.
“We have close to $1 million set aside to refurbish and redo the current court facilities,” Chance said. “We would be putting money into a building that is 30-40 years old.”
“We don’t really have a firm number in mind regarding how much we could potentially pay for the First Southern Building,” he said. “But we feel that if we could reach an agreement and purchase it for about the same amount of money we would put into the current building, then it makes better sense for the citizens. We would have an almost new facility and something that can be used for years to come.”
According to Chance, the South Main building will be appraised for a second time, as negotiations continue.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.