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Marion to move city hall into First Southern Bank building

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MARION (WSIL) -- The Marion City Council voted Monday night to approve the purchase of the First Southern Bank building on town square.

Interior renovations in the coming years aim to convert the bank into the new city hall. The goal is to make city hall easily accessible by centralizing its services, according to chief of staff Cody Moake.

"What intrigued us was the ability for us to get all of our constituent-facing services on the ground floor as you walk into the building," Moake said.

Discussions between the city and bank administrators began 18 months ago. In the past six months, bank administrators appraised the building at more than $1 million. The city paid a fraction of the cost, about $460,000.

"The city sees that as a gift. No doubt about that," Moake said.

FIXING THE BUILDING

The city's purchase of the bank, which Moake says dates back to 1914, is the latest step towards revitalizing the town square. City leaders want to put the building to good use instead of letting it waste away.

"They didn't want to see that building... fall into the hands of someone that... may not do something with it," Moake said. "They wanted to make sure that that building would be preserved and be a part of the city's future."

Nearly all of the renovations are being done inside, with little changes coming to the exterior. Moake says the building will include an elevator and other features to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

BANK OPERATIONS WILL CONTINUE

The city council approved to lease a portion of the property to the bank to maintain operations. The lease is $180,000 over the next 10 years with extension options.

The bank will have offices in the north end of the building and offer a full-service branch complete with drive-up lanes, a night deposit box and ATM.

THE NEXT 100 YEARS

The bank has to remove safety deposit boxes and other items before renovations can begin. That process, Moake says, could take six to 10 months.

Moake doesn't anticipate the new city hall to open until at least summer 2022. City leaders are confident this will be city hall for the next 100 years.

"That building will hopefully be city hall for my lifetime, for my kids' lifetimes and for generations to come," Moake said.

Danny Valle

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