I am sure that many of you have noticed the "For Sale" sign affixed to the former location of First Southern National Bank on South Main Street in Statesboro.
The 16,618 square foot building on 1.71 acres is being listed by local real estate agent Sam DiPolito for $2.3 million.
It was probably thought by many that Heritage Bank of the South - which assumed approximately $170 million in deposits and acquired $120 million in loans from First Southern when it closed this past July - also acquired the building.
That is not the case, and the building is owned by the FDIC.
It is my understanding that there have been negotiations regarding that building by very interested parties, but the FDIC isn't quite ready to be creative, and for now is satisfied with listing the building at the aforementioned price.
It is obvious to the casual onlooker that the old First Southern building is a cornerstone of such for South Main, because it is attractive, well built, and quite noticeable.
It is also obvious that South Main is struggling to some extent, as demonstrated by the number of empty commercial buildings for sale (for example, the former locations of Shoneys, Taco Bell, and Western Sizzlin).
So, the question begs, what type of business would be a fit for that building? Well, clearly a bank would, and it is my understanding there has been sincere interest in the building from some banks, but negotiations with the FDIC have been unsuccessful so far.
DiPolito said he is in process of determining what the cost would be to retrofit it for an alternative user such as a law firm, insurance agency, etc.
"That will be a function of where the load bearing walls are within the building," he said.
While the sale of this building is not going to "make or break" South Main Street necessarily, it is very important for a solid, respectable tenant to assume ownership. It would lend stability to the section of downtown that serves as the welcoming corridor for the vast majority of visitors that come here whether scouting for an industrial location, or an apprehensive parent looking for a great, safe place for their child to attend college.
Let's hope DiPolito has some magic up his sleeve.