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Westminster government employees to move into former bank building in March

The city of Westminster has been working to obtain and convert a bank building into a new government building for at least five years.

After price negotiations, furniture delivery delays and a pandemic that slowed things down, city employees are set to move into the newly renovated former BB&T Bank building next month. Barbara Matthews, the city administrator said a move-in day is not yet scheduled, but will most likely be in early March.

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Renovations at the 45 W. Main Street location are in final stages and city leaders said the $4.82 million project will eventually produce cost savings.

“Going from a lease building to a long-term building is going to save the taxpayers a lot of money,” Mayor Joe Dominick said in an interview.

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The lease on the building currently in use for city employees was $178,000 per year, but council member Tony Chiavacci said it jumped to nearly $200,000 a year.

Chiavacci said he’s been on the council since negotiations started with BB&T Bank to knock down the price of a building they were no longer using and willing to sell. Although the city had a good relationship with the bank, the council member said negotiations became tense. However, Westminster bought it for around $1.6 million, he said, about half of what BB&T originally asked for.

“We knew we were going to have to put a fair amount of money into it,” he said.

Tony Chiavacci, left, a Westminster council member is joined by Matt Louden, president of Warner Construction as they discuss aspects of the construction during a tour of the former BB&T building, in the process of being converted to an administration building for the city of Westminster, on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021.
Tony Chiavacci, left, a Westminster council member is joined by Matt Louden, president of Warner Construction as they discuss aspects of the construction during a tour of the former BB&T building, in the process of being converted to an administration building for the city of Westminster, on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

It was worth it given the upgrades the new building would provide and the “shabby” working space they would leave behind, Chiavacci said. He didn’t want to disparage the current building at 56 W Main Street, but noted that it was “not perfect.”

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The city was spending money on a space that wasn’t the best, he said. It could have hindered attracting new employees and it could have encouraged turnover — an expense in itself, Chiavacci added.

He said the new building, with two stories above ground and one story below, will save taxpayers money down the road, and it also prevented Westminster from having an abandoned, “not the most attractive”and “oddly shaped” bank building on Main Street.

Dominick said the new building will be much nicer, more modern and more comfortable than the location they currently use.

“We’ve included a training room that is going to help us … facilitate things that were hard to do in the old building,” he said.

Dominick said he is not sure what will become of the current building but it could be a space that adds something for Main Street. Maybe a retail spot, he added.

Construction underway at the new Westminster building on West Main Street where city employees will work out of starting in March.
Construction underway at the new Westminster building on West Main Street where city employees will work out of starting in March.

The mayor said they have kept an eye on the progress and noted that the interior looks nice. They were able to stay on a budget “without sacrificing quality,” he added. There were some setbacks, like the weather and the pandemic, and the supply chain also caused some delays. Other than that, Dominick said, the renovations have been smooth.

Jeff Glass, Westminster’s director of public works, also said the pandemic and deliveries caused delays.

“The furniture delivery isn’t expected until the end of [February] now as well,” he said in an email.

Meeting minutes from Nov. 23 state the cost for furniture was nearly $269,000. Other cost items include door replacements for $3,900, air shaft walls for $9,200 and parking lot milling and repaving for $41,457.

Some of the other work included repairing storm drains and the removal and reconstruction of portions of sidewalk that cost $9,030, according to the Oct. 30 meeting minutes.

Renovations nearly complete at the new Westminster building on West Main Street where city employees will work out of starting in March.
Renovations nearly complete at the new Westminster building on West Main Street where city employees will work out of starting in March.

Glass said some of the key renovations were probably adding more windows and outdoor sunshades, as well as the removal of the drive through.

His favorite part of the building is a feature that already existed, the open architecture on the first floor to the second floor in the main lobby.

Chiavacci said his favorite feature isn’t a room or space, but the amount of money it will save when it is still being used decades from now.

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