Although an official announcement may be weeks away, there are indications that Community & Southern Bank indeed will pare down its presence in downtown Winder.
Sources in the local business community say the new owners have notified about 25 employees at the East Midland Avenue operations center that their positions are being eliminated.
And bank representatives recently asked a local real estate office to vacate the second floor of a building across North Broad Street from the main office to make room for relocated banking services.
“The way I understand it, when they took over the bank, it rendered all contracts null and void, which meant we didn’t have a signed lease agreement,” said Doug Garrison of the Barrow/316 branch of The Norton Agency. “They said we could stay month to month.”
A few weeks ago, a bank official and an attorney came to the office at 76 North Broad St. and asked the Norton staff to make plans to relocate.
“The rumor was out that they were not going to stay in the downtown bank but come across the street, so we were already looking for a site,” Garrison said. “Sure enough, they came in and talked to us and said, ‘We’ve got plans for this building.’” Garrison said it is his understanding that while the exterior of the former main office of The Peoples Bank has been totally renovated, the interior needs additional restoration.
“I don’t think they want that burden,” he said. “And they don’t want the operations center because they have an operations center.”
The Norton Agency has occupied three of the building’s second-floor offices and a conference room since August 2009. The real estate office is the only business in the building, but the Betty Jo Maddox Community Room is on the first floor and is regularly used by community groups for meetings.
“My understanding is they are going to start renovations during the month of December, knowing that we will be out by the first of the year, and they will convert that to the bank,” Garrison said. “It’s what we understand.”
Norton’s offices will remain on Broad Street but blocks away at the corner of Broad and West Stephens streets.
“It’s right next to Bank of America and diagonally across from the Post Office,” Garrison said.
“We have the whole building leased, and it’s in pretty good shape. We’re excited about it because it is a good location and gives us good visibility.”
Community & Southern Bank officials have about two more weeks to exercise their company’s options to purchase the Peoples Bank sites from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
There are three other Winder branch offices, including two on North Broad Street and a third at Holly Hill shopping center. Three other branch locations are in Auburn, Braselton and Statham. Asked this week about her company’s plans regarding layoffs and downtown bank facilities, vice president and director of marketing Charity Aaron said she had no update at this time.
Community & Southern Bank officials have two more weeks to decide which former facilities of The Peoples Bank to purchase from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. There are strong indications that the new bank will move out of both this four-story downtown centerpiece on North Broad Street and Peoples’ operations center on East Midland Avenue. - Photo by Jessica Brown
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