Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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Downtown bank, business to swap locations


A branch of First Horizon Bank is preparing to move to a new location within Burlington’s downtown business district in order to make way for the expansion of a home-grown telecommunications service provider.

The Alamance News has learned that First Horizon’s branch at 445 South Main Street is slated to relocate to a building at 245 West Davis Street that serves as the corporate headquarters of National OnDemand.

Sources have told the newspaper that First Horizon will eventually occupy the first floor of the Davis Street building, where National OnDemand also intends to maintain a presence even after the move.

National OnDemand, which rehabiliated the former Bank of America location in downtown Burlington (above), will continue to occupy the top floor of its current building, while also expanding into the First Horizon Bank building that it has already bought at 445 South Main Street; the bank will occupy the first floor of the 245 West Davis Street location of OnDemand. Both buildings will have state re-use grants to help finance renovations to each.

Meanwhile, National OnDemand plans to move a portion of its own burgeoning operations into First Horizon’s old digs, which it acquired in November at a cost of $2.65 million. The company has apparently begun to renovate the upper levels of the multi-story bank building even as business continues in First Horizon’s first-floor offices – albeit amid a palpable sense of excitement about the branch’s own impending move.

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This real-life episode of “trading spaces” has been made possible, in part, by a building reuse grant that the N.C. Department of Commerce recently awarded to Burlington on behalf of National OnDemand.

Last week, the office of Governor Roy Cooper formally announced that the state’s commerce department has agreed to contribute $120,000 toward the National OnDemand’s plans to renovate the 34,325-square-foot edifice at 445 South Main Street. According to the governor’s office, the company intends to invest $1,297,400 of its own funds into this project, which is expected to allow National OnDemand to expand its workforce by at least 15 employees.

A specialist in the design, construction and maintenance of infrastructure for everything from green energy to high-speed Internet, National OnDemand has some previous experience in repurposing old buildings for its cutting-edge needs. In fact, the company previously received $312,000 from the state’s commerce department to revamp its Davis Street headquarters, which it had purchased in 2019 for $475,000.

National OnDemand had originally sought a much larger sum from the commerce department for its proposed renovation of First Horizon’s old home. Last month, Burlington’s city council agreed to seek $500,000 from the state agency on the company’s behalf with the understanding that the city would be on the hook for 5 percent of the grant’s ultimate value.

The state’s subsequent decision to approve less than a fourth of the requested sum hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of Peter Bishop, the city’s economic developer, about National OnDemand’s proposed expansion. Bishop told The Alamance News that the commerce department’s final award may have been based on the project’s relatively low job creation numbers rather than the particulars of the project itself.

“The amount awarded per job is still at the very high end,” he added, “So, I would say it’s a very large positive that National OnDemand was able to go back to the same grant program [to get additional funds]. It shows that the state still has confidence in National OnDemand and in Burlington’s ability to manage the grant.”

Bishop also sees some reason to cheer the relocation offer that National OnDemand has extended to First Horizon as part of its proposed expansion.

“When they approached First Horizon to purchase that building,” he went on to recall, “First Horizon said that they wanted to maintain their presence in downtown Burlington. So, it kind of works out real well for both companies.”

In addition to the award for National OnDemand, the governor’s office has also announced a second building reuse grant that the city of Burlington had sought on behalf of ChenMed.

A multi-state firm that operates a chain of medical clinics, ChenMed had asked the state’s commerce department for $300,000 to enlarge and refurbish the former Medicap Pharmacy

Meanwhile, the new owners of the former Medicap Pharmacy building on Harden Street also received a state re-use grant to apply to renovations there, as well.

along Harden Street. The commerce department ultimately awarded the requested amount for this $1.25 million project, which is expected to add at least 30 jobs to the local economy.

Read Burlington planning board decisions in this week’s edition:

Opposed to 252 apartment beside Highland Elementary School:

OK with others off Huffman Mill:

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