ROCK SPRINGS — The Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors recommended a $2,917,701 Community Development Readiness grant for the city of Rock Springs for phase one rehabilitation of the First Security Bank building located at 502 S. Main St. The city acquired the building in 2011 in order to preserve it.
The Business Council’s recommendations will move on to the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) for final approval. The SLIB is comprised of the five statewide elected officials: the governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer and state superintendent of public instruction. The final decision on the project is scheduled for the Jan. 16 SLIB meeting.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Supporters said a significant amount of time and costs have been dedicated to studies, planning and testing for the restoration of the First Security Bank building. The grant is the next logical step after those studies, according to a press release.
“Properly developed, the First Security Bank building can once again be a productive contributor to downtown for years to come,” the release states.
According to Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency Manger Chad Banks, who attended the council’s Dec. 5 meeting, the building has been vacant for approximately 40 years. The level of neglect and lack of maintenance has made it a monumental task for developers, both for-profit and not-for-profit, to revitalize despite making several attempts over the years.
Grant funds will be used to remove and dismantle old systems and asbestos; footing repairs and seismic upgrades to support structural deterioration; replace roofing to immediately secure the building from further damage from weather and outside elements; install modern utilities including HVAC, and fire suppression system upgrades; install windows, doors and perimeter access/egress; and prepare the building footprint and future access for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and elevator shaft for installation of an elevator in future phases.
“The First Security Bank building was once the anchor and financial flagship in Rock Springs and is a historic icon on the downtown Rock Springs skyline,” Rock Springs mayor Tim Kaumo said.
Kaumo added that it’s the desire of the city and the Main Street/URA to protect and preserve this building for future use and economic development efforts in downtown Rock Springs.
An article from the Rock Springs Rocket Miner dated May 30, 1919, reporting the opening of the First National Bank (the precursor to First Security) states: “The building stands a credit to the town and may be seen for miles from every direction as you come into town.” This statement still holds true when entering downtown today.
City rehabilitation of the First Security Bank building is meant to attract tenants. Adjacent property located at 504 S. Main Street was deeded to the city by the property owner, Gordon Crofts, in August 2019. This will allow the city to optimize the site’s potential by providing appropriate workspace for the operation and maintenance stations, secure a location for internal back-up systems, provide safety and security of additional mechanical systems and prevent exposure to weather elements by allowing controlled access to vital equipment, according to a press release.
This project is monumental for the city and Main Street/URA, not only because of the square footage and emerging threats to the stability of the building, but because it has been their goal for decades to preserve and re-purpose the building. This project allows Rock Springs and the Main Street/URA to further their downtown redevelopment goals while preserving a key piece of their history.
“The First Security Bank Building is in good overall condition and is viable for renovation,” notes the Feasibility Study completed by Myers Anderson in 2014. “Architecturally, the building is an excellent example of classical revival architecture with its large fenestrations and strong cast details.”
There are five major goals to be accomplished in this phase to allow the city to further their downtown redevelopment plans:
1. Improve existing infrastructure
2. Secure and safeguard from weather and other hazards
3. Install new roof and mechanism to divert water run-off
4. Prepare for utility and services connectivity
5. Begin ADA compliance and prepare for fire exits
The First Security Bank building in its current condition is a liability. Empty and abandoned properties lead to crime and declining property values. This rehabilitation project inspires change and a new perspective for a piece of downtown history.
The total project cost for phase one is $3,241,890. The city of Rock Springs is providing a cash match of $250,000 and an in-kind amount of $74,189 for the donated property located at 502 S. Main St. to provide access and easement to the building property for foundation and structural work and installation of an elevator shaft. The cost per square-foot for the first phase is $126.67.
Following completion of phase one, Rock Springs and Main Street/URA will seek to partner with a private developer or developers to complete the project. The ultimate goal of the project is to sell the building to a private developer at market value.