By Nancy Leighton
The former Citizens and Southern Bank branch, located at 1291 Moreland Avenue, has met the wrecking crew. Commonly called the C&S bank, the geometric mid-twentieth century modern style building had been unoccupied since about 1992, when C&S merged with another bank and closed a number of branches.
The building was in the architectural form of a spiral. The spiral started in the parking lot below the building. Approximately every 30 feet, the elevation of the floor increased about three steps up to the next level. Each 30-foot section was a radius, all connected going around and around, until the spiral was about three stories high. A ramp led to an entrance at the bottom of the spiral. An entrance at the top was connected by a bridge to a parking area on a widened stub of Eastland Avenue. As with so many mid-twentieth century buildings, it was made of steel, glass, and concrete.
The whole lower parking lot was in the flood plain of Entrenchment Creek. To keep the building above the flood plain, the whole building was held up on huge I-beam stilts. The I-beams extended all the way to the top of the building and passed the roof. The top of each I-beam had another short section of I-beam welded on to it at a 135-degree angle. That angle was pointed to the center of the building. Each I-beam increased in height around the radius of the west side of the building.
The center of the building was a cylinder of windows. Below this cylinder, in the parking level, was a garden. It was planted with bald cypress trees, Japanese maples, and some type of evergreen seldom planted in this region. When the bank was closed, these trees would have been about 30 years old. By now they would have been about 50 years old. It was very special and pretty.
The unique architectural design of the building did cause some problems. It was not handicap accessible. This inaccessibility also affected the Brink’s man coming in with boxes of cash, and especially coins, loaded on a hand-cart. A bank could not function very well in that building. There are very few businesses that could function well in that narrow building, which changed levels every 30 feet. The building was not really suitable for adaptive reuse either.
The demolition of this building could mean several things. It could mean that something new is on the drawing board for this parcel, and new construction could start very soon. This property is zoned C-1, light commercial. On the other hand, the demolition could mean that the property owner has decided that the deteriorated building was too much of a liability to sell the property, or some other type of liability that wasn’t manageable. It could mean, in this economy, that the land will remain vacant for more years to come.
No one should be surprised if this parcel comes up for rezoning. It has the potential to carry a much larger project than would be allowed in C-1. A substantial size project could bring new vitality to that part of Moreland Avenue.
As all the old I-beams and other debris heads off to be recycled, only time will tell what will be next at 1291 Moreland Avenue.