Prior to the Milford City Council meeting on Monday, May 13, 2013, council members toured the building recently vacated by PNC Bank on South Walnut Street to determine if the building was suitable to house the city’s Billing Department. Originally, the billing department was to be located at the new water plant on South Washington Street, but City officials believe the bank building offers a better option for the offices, and the purchase of the building would allow relocation sooner.
Originally the home of the Milford Trust Company, the building was built in 1901, and has been a banking institution ever since. PNC Bank chose to close the downtown location due to the close proximity to another branch of the bank located on Dupont Highway.
“There will need to be some renovations,” said Richard Carmean, City Manager. “The lobby needs changes to accommodate all the billing department employees, and we want to lower the lobby counter somewhat. We also need to look into adding an elevator if we plan to use the upper floors for offices as well.” Eric Retzlaff, an engineer for Davis, Bowen and Friedel, said that an elevator was required unless the City planned to use the top floors for storage only. If offices were proposed, an elevator would meet federal regulations for handicap access. Mr. Retzlaff indicated that installing the elevator prior to usage of the building was advisable.
Many of the council members were impressed with the historical features found in the bank, including the giant vault doors with brass flowerets above it, and the original woodwork found in many areas of the bank. Mr. Carmean feels that polishing the front of the vault will bring even more beauty to the already elegant lobby. The building did have some other issues that council will have to address, such as some water damage in the basement and upgrades to the bathrooms throughout the bank.
“There are some water problems downstairs,” said Councilmember Katrina Wilson. “There are spots and a pretty strong smell.” According to Bob Paul of PNC Bank, who was present to answer questions about the building, air quality tests performed annually show suitable air quality, and he offered to provide council with copies of the reports. Mr. Carmean stated that there were no plans to store any papers in the basement due to the dampness, but indicated the city would utilize the ample storage on the upper floors for documents that needed to be protected from dampness.
“There are also extra tiles and carpet available to replace any areas that need replacing,” Mr. Carmean explained. “We could even advise PNC Bank that they could return the ATM to the vestibule. The night deposit location is perfect for customers to pay their bills after hours, and the drive through windows also provide convenience to Milford customers. This building will be all we ever need, even as the department grows, as there is room for expansion throughout the building.”
In addition to the features that would provide better customer service, the heating and air conditioning system is within a few years old, and lighting in the bank was recently replaced with newer, energy-efficient fixtures. Mr. Paul also indicated that the roof had recently been serviced as well. Because the building was recently used as a bank, there are computer network and modern telephone lines in place, which will make it easier for the city to connect to online services necessary to operate the billing department.
“This is a great location,” said Councilmember Dirk Gleysteen. “It is a historic building that will serve the needs of the city and the public for many years to come.”