Board Paves the Way for Bank

A rendering of the First Community Bank building that is proposed for construction in downtown Blythewood.

BLYTHEWOOD – The Town’s Architectural Review Board voted on Monday evening for conditional approval for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for a building the First Community Bank plans to construct at the corner of Blythewood Road and Main Street (Highway 21) in downtown Blythewood. B & D Auto Sales currently operates on the property. The final COA is subject to approval of a landscape plan by the Town’s landscape consultant, Rick McMackin.

Michael Crapps, President and CEO of the bank said construction on the bank should begin in about a year and should be completed around the first of 2015. Crapps told members of the BAR that Community Bank started in 1995 with two offices in Lexington and Forest Acres and is the largest community bank in the Midlands. Community Bank currently has 11 branches in a four-county area.

“We expand into the type of communities that value local businesses and that value input and participation by citizens,” Crapps told the Board. “Our goal is to enhance the prosperity of the communities that we’re involved in. We look forward to serving the businesses and individuals in Blythewood.”

The Board members had only positive comments to make regarding the architecture of the building as presented by Architect Cling Burdette representing Jenkins, Hancock and Sides Architects who designed the building.

The 3,000-square-foot building will sit close to the street with parking in the rear and side according to requirements of the Town’s Master Plan. However, the building will not have to meet the height requirements of a recently passed ordinance that would require all new buildings on specific corner lots in the Town to include a simulated second story. Perry said the bank building would be 3-feet short of that requirement.

Perry explained the exception as an improvement but not the quantum leap forward that the Town’s ordinance called for. While he stood by the Town’s aggressive plan for new construction in certain areas of the downtown, Perry blamed the economy, saying it made this a difficult time to move forward with the plan.

“It’s better to take a half step forward and achieve an acceptable compromise,” Perry said. It [the requirement] might not be worth it for the development not to happen at all.”