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Downtown fixture in Gainesville may get massive makeover
1960s-era building has been home to 2 banks
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Jimmy Adams and Jim Walters, right, plan to remodel the former Regions Bank on Spring Street in downtown Gainesville.

The offices are dark and teller stations have gone quiet.

For 47 years, the five-story building at 111 Green St. in downtown Gainesville housed many a banker and customer hoping to open an account or close a loan.

First National Bank opened the bank in 1964, followed by Regions in the late 1990s. Regions, also with offices at Jesse Jewell and E.E. Butler parkways, moved its remaining offices to a new branch on E.E. Butler Parkway in late July.

But 111 Green St. LLC, a Gainesville investment group that bought the iconic building one year ago, hopes the vacancy won't last for long, having tapped Sperry Van Ness/Hokayem Commercial Real Estate to market the property.

"One thing that's exciting about the project is reestablishing the building as a legal or financial center," said the company's managing director, George A. Hokayem. "One of the draws ... is to put it back to its prominence."

In its heyday, the bank was a haven for major financial decisions and loans made in North Georgia.

"The board would gather upstairs and decisions would be made based on character and knowledge of the people," Hokayem said.

Hokayem and the investment group particularly tout the bank's location, between E.E. Butler and the Gainesville square and near courthouse buildings and downtown restaurants.

The 43,000-square-foot building also features an original parking deck— all spanning an entire city block with a traffic signal at each intersection.

"There is no better location in Hall County," said Jimmy Adams, president of Adams Transfer & Storage Co. and one of the lead investors.

The building's interior remains virtually unchanged from the 1960s, from the signs to the furnishings.

"They don't make stuff like this anymore — nice, solid doors and mahogany wood, nice oak counters," said the other key investor, Jim Walters, president of Walters Management Co.

The investors have had architectural plans drawn for the old bank's exterior, which now features rows of narrow windows and front-entrance columns shaped, as Adams observed, like Phillips-head screwdrivers.

"We want to renovate this building so that it is a focal point when you come to Gainesville," Walters said.

The site has been a familiar spot for decades. Before the bank was built, First Baptist Church of Gainesville was on the property. After it burned in the early 1960s, the church moved to its current location on Green Street.

Green Street LLC bought the bank last September for $1.5 million, according to Enota Associates' real estate appraisal database.

Renovations could cost "millions" to complete and could be tied largely to tenant preferences, Walters and Adams said.

"The (completion) timetable would be driven by the tenant," Walters said. "Once we have an anchor tenant on board, we would begin these renovations and some of them would be geared to their needs, obviously."

The project would take 4-6 months once it gets under way, Adams said.

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