Development Beat: New Building Report

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Monday, May 16, 2016

The subject of today’s new building report was driving me a little crazy. It’s a new bank with a drive-thru at 701 Mutual Court in North Raleigh: certainly nothing exciting, but something about it stuck in my head.

I could’ve sworn I’d written about it, maybe even recently. The site plan was filed before the Development Beat even existed, so it wasn’t that. Keyword searches of this site turned up nothing and I finally realized: someone had emailed me about this, not even two weeks ago.

A Union Branch & Trust. I had trouble finding pictures of their branch locations. This one's in Creedmoor

Bing Maps

A Union Branch & Trust. I had trouble finding pictures of their branch locations. This one’s in Creedmoor

The sitework must have started for this project, the site of which was said to be located “on Strickland Road, near the intersection with Falls of Neuse… next to West Millbrook Middle School..”

That email was sent May 3. On May 12, a permit valued at $2,463,195 was issued to McDonald-York Construction for the new 8,675 square-foot structure.

This will apparently be the second Raleigh location of the Greenville-based community bank, which describes itself as “a full-service bank with offices across the United States. We provide a wide spectrum of corporate, commercial, retail banking, and wealth management solutions to meet the needs of customers.”

However, that other Raleigh location we mentioned is described on the bank’s website as a “loan production office;” Google Streetview shows an office rather than a bank at the address.

Also on its website, Union Bank & Trust boasts of having assets in excess of $120 billion. Yowza. Which actually calls to mind something that occurred to me when I first looked into this project a few weeks ago. Is it safe to have, essentially, a prime target for armed robbery located right next to a middle school, full of innocent children?

The purple dot is roughly where the bank will be located.

Bing Maps

The purple dot is roughly where the bank will be located. To the right is the West Millbrook Middle School. Note: this map is flipped, so the “top” of the picture is south.

Maybe I watch too many movies, but this just seems like a setup for a really bad situation. I don’t know what an ideal location for a bank would be, maybe next to a CrossFit studio, where the thieves would be too afraid too take hostages?

The new bank is actually smaller than was originally called for on the site plans, which described it as coming in at a total of 12,000 square feet and standing 28′ tall.

The drawings included on the site plans indicate the new branch will be two stories tall, and, as mentioned, include a drive-thru.

An early site plan sketch of the bank. Note: this bank was being planned by a different developer.

An early site plan sketch of the bank. Note: this bank was being planned by a different developer.

It should be noted that the site plans I’m referring to, SP63-13, were put together by a different developer and weren’t specifically for a Union Branch & Trust. In fact, I called that original developer after getting the email earlier this month, and he told me he was no longer involved but knew it was going to be another bank.

So why keep referring to it? Well…it’s a site plan for a retail bank with a drive-thru on the exact same site Union Branch & Trust is getting built. How different is it going to really be? Banks are no longer the architectural marvels they once were.

The First Bank of the United States, located in Philadelphia. You think Wells Fargo is going to build one of these across the street from a new Wendy's?

Wikimedia Commons

The First Bank of the United States, located in Philadelphia. You think Wells Fargo is going to build something like this across the street from the new Chic-Fil-A?

A while back, I wrote about the puzzling proliferation of Mattress Stores in and around Raleigh; I also included a breakdown on some of the other store types that seem to be popping up faster than Gremlins from a wet Mogwai. There’s 273 storage facilities in Raleigh, for example. 187 coffee shops. 186 drugstores. And so on.

One category I left out was banks. Like pharmacies, new bank branches seem to crop up along every thoroughfare throughout the wealthier suburbs of Raleigh (and the country at large). I tried using the same website (Factual.com) that provided the data on coffee shops, storage facilities and mattress stores to find out the number of banks, but the first search was… less than successful.

This won't do

This won’t do.

Included among the 840 results were a number of Jos A. Bank clothing stores, several food banks and even a listing for Banks Road Elementary School.

Fortunately, I stumbled across a filter that let me limit the result to “financial” and “banking and finance” results only. It kicked out 442 results in Raleigh. While there were no food banks or Joseph A. Banks among the results, it did include a number of ATMs, so its not exactly an official accounting.

Still, there’s a lot of banks in Raleigh, but the biggest mystery about them is one I was reminded of when looking at the elevation drawings for the new Union Branch & Trust: why do so many of them need two stories?

I won’t pretend to understand why banks need so many retail outlets to begin with — I imagine it has a lot to do with selling loans and mortgages — but when you’re one of 22 Wells Fargo branches in Raleigh, do you really need so many people on staff that a second floor is required?

Or are they just for show, like the weird exterior facades at the Holly Park Shopping Center on Wake Forest Road? We’ll probably never know.

When the Holly Park Shopping Center was renovated, the buildings were left the same but new facades were added.

Finley Design

When the Holly Park Shopping Center was renovated, the buildings were left the same but new facades were added (this sketch overlays the new facades onto those existing buildings. Click on the photo for a link to Finley Design’s blog about this place. It’s pretty interesting!

4 thoughts on “Development Beat: New Building Report

  1. James- I remember reading something you wrote about this site… it had something to do with stormwater requirements? I feel like there was a mention of a new grocery storm somewhere else in the post.

  2. Eric,

    How could I have forgotten about that place? You’re absolutely right!

    Louis,

    It’s very possible, like I said I tried looking into past issues of Development Beat but wasn’t able to find anything. It sometimes feels like *every* big intersection in North Raleigh is getting a shopping center or a pharmacy, or both.

    James

  3. On a slightly related note (to the Fidelity Bank in CV), how is the CVS renovation coming along?