June 4, 2013
Bank rehab under way
The Orchard Street side of the former HSBC building in downtown Cortland is having some its concrete facade removed, to be replaced by windows.
The interior is being renovated to change office and teller configurations. A new roof is being put on. Massive garbage bins are parked behind the building. Work crews have been busy even at night.
The new owner, Tompkins Trust Co., hopes to occupy the building at 36 Main St. in early August and move from its more cramped location at the corner of Church Street and Clinton Avenue.
The two-story Main Street structure, which has a layered concrete look on the outside that was designed to resemble a fortress when constructed in 1969, will soon have a smoother, softer look in shades of tan, gray and brown.
“It’s a modern building but we have to get it to be in line a little more with what the city Historic Preservation Commission is trying to accomplish,” said Bradley Totman, the bank’s vice president for Dryden and Cortland.
The bank’s plans were approved by the commission last spring, after it began submitting architectural designs in January.
The first floor has not been used since September, when First Niagara — which purchased HSBC — moved all banking operations to its building on the corner of Clinton Avenue and North Main Street.
Totman said Monday the work is being supervised by PW Campbell, an architectural firm based in Pittsburgh that designs banks. Several contractors are handling the plumbing, electrical, roofing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning aspects of the renovation.
Linda Kline, the historic commission’s chairperson, said the commission approved Tompkins Trust’s plans and thought the new exterior look “would be more appealing.”
She said there was no downtown historic district when the building was designed in the 1960s “and it probably would not have passed the commission now.”
The current exterior style, known as “brutalist,” was used in the design of bank buildings by the former Marine Midland, which changed its name to HSBC. The design also was used for HSBC buildings in Auburn, Buffalo and elsewhere in upstate New York.
Totman and Kline said there was a small group of people who opposed the plan to soften the exterior.
Totman said the first floor of the building will have seven offices, two more than it did with HSBC, and a large conference room.
“Not much has been done in the past 25 years, to the interior,” he said.
He said Tompkins Trust will have safety deposit boxes, a service it cannot provide at its current location. He thought there would be about 200 safety deposit boxes.
Totman said the second floor, which has offices for private businesses, will remain the same for now but could be renovated and might have a community room.
He said the bank will not discuss the overall cost of the renovation but called it “substantial.” He said this shows the Ithaca-based bank’s commitment to remaining in the Cortland community.
“We are here to stay,” he said. “This is an investment in Cortland.”
Totman said there should be no interruption in services when the bank moves.
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