The decision whether to renovate the Town of Bel Air’s aging building on Hickory Avenue or move town hall to a new location was one of the keystone issues of last fall’s town election. Now, there may be an answer.
The former BB&T Bank building on Main Street in Bel Air is “under contract”, according to the real estate firm handling its sale, and a source close to the deal told The Dagger that the town is the buyer and will move its administrative offices and meeting space to that location.
The former BB&T building is currently under contract, according to Donnell “Beetle” Smith of RKS Realty. However, Smith declined to identify the prospective buyer, saying only that the transaction was in a study period expected to last through mid-April. Following that period, Smith said he expects the deal to move to settlement in mid-May.
The Bel Air Police Department will take over the Hickory Avenue building, while the town’s Planning and Zoning Department will be reunited with other town services at the Main Street location, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the ongoing nature of the transaction.
David Carey, chairman of the Town of Bel Air’s Board of Commissioners, would not comment on the issue.
BB&T vacated the building more than a year ago for a new facility on Baltimore Pike at the former location of Bel Air Pontiac.
The town has sought a new home for its offices for several years, and commissioned Frederick Ward Associates to do a study of the cost of renovations to the existing building, which put the number at $5 million. According to the source, the purchase and renovation of the BB&T building would cost the town a total of less than $4 million.
Town Commissioner Robert Preston said the town made an offer on the building last year, which was not accepted. He would not confirm whether the town had submitted a new bid which was accepted.
“There’s been no decision made at this time. A lot goes into making a decision like that,” Preston said. “The final decision has not been made.”