Changes in the works in downtown Anniston
by Paige Rentz
prentz@annistonstar.com
Oct 05, 2013 | 5137 views |  0 comments | 112 112 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Slowly being torn down to make way for a smaller structure is the Quintard Avenue home of the Wells Fargo bank. The building, pictured here in 1979 when it housed the offices of First National Bank of Anniston, opened in April 1973. (Anniston Star file photo)
Slowly being torn down to make way for a smaller structure is the Quintard Avenue home of the Wells Fargo bank. The building, pictured here in 1979 when it housed the offices of First National Bank of Anniston, opened in April 1973. (Anniston Star file photo)
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As Wells Fargo tears down its iconic office building at the corner of 10th Street and Quintard Avenue to build a smaller retail bank there, some of the company’s administrative offices are set to move to Anniston’s main downtown corridor.

It’s a sign of life in the business district where two other entities have already set up shop and found new customers.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Jamie Dexter said that some of the company’s employees will be moving into the office space on Oct. 11. Among the departments relocating to Noble Street are business banking, mortgage and Wells Fargo advisers.

“We’re committed to Anniston, and it’s important for us to be in downtown Anniston,” Dexter said.

Work on the tear-down of the building has been underway since summer, with a goal of demolishing the building by early 2014.

Dianna Michaels, director of Spirit of Anniston, said the move to the Noble Building is important for Anniston.

“When it’s full, it shows downtown is open for business,” she said, adding that it brings more employees and customers who will be looking for a nearby lunch on Noble Street.

Woof!

Piper’s Playhouse, a doggie daycare, grooming and training center, has opened up its new location at 1221 Noble Street.

In the two weeks she’s been in business downtown, owner Sara Hare said the increased visibility of her red-awning store front has improved traffic.

“On average we get two to three new customers coming in here a day,” she said. At her former Arrow Avenue location, she said, the business relied mostly on word-of-mouth referrals.

“A lot of people didn’t know we were even there,” she said.

Hare said that when she began shopping for a new location, she knew she wanted to look downtown, where she felt positive developments are happening

“I like being a part of something like that,” she said.

When she first saw the empty Alagasco building, she said, “I could see it in my head what it would be for us.”

The new space on Noble Street has more room for retail items such as toys and treats, and Hare expects to begin offering obedience training in January.

Service on 12th Street

Just down Noble Street at the Model City Center, the Junior League of Anniston-Calhoun has settled into its first permanent home in years. The league is a nonprofit organization that promotes health and education programs for women and children.

President Alyson Mims said league members began moving its property from storage into the new space at 12th and Noble streets in early July.

“We’re wanting to get more involved in the community, establish a presence we’ve had before that may have gotten lost along the way,” she said.

Michaels said downtown space typically should be reserved for retail and restaurant enterprises, but the Junior League’s new office space brings in dozens of members who are likely to shop or eat downtown.

“It’s a very active organization that now has a cross-section of women that has a variety of ages,” she said. Having the active group on Noble Street, she said, opens up opportunity for partnerships and participation in downtown events.

“It’s helped revitalize downtown, but also helping revitalize us as the Junior League,” Mims said. She said she hopes a permanent, centralized location will help the organization continue to grow and promote community service and volunteerism in the city.

Drumming up interest

“It really helps them and it brings a lot of activity downtown,” said Model City Center owner James Lloyd of Noble Properties, who donated the roughly 3,000 square feet of space to the League.

Lloyd said he hopes the added activity in his building may draw more interest from potential tenants for the remaining 10,000 square feet of space. He also wants to drum up interest in two other downtown buildings owned by Noble Properties, including eight floors each in Watermark Tower and Commerce Towers.

After the Department of Human Resources left eight floors empty at Commerce Towers, Commerce Towers LLC defaulted on the loan. The building has been in foreclosure since last year, with scheduled auctions continually postponed.

“We’re still in limbo,” Lloyd said.

Hilton Tomlinson, the lawyer handling the foreclosure, said on Friday that the owner of the mortgage, LSREF2 Baron Trust LLC, has assigned the mortgage to another entity, LSREF Baron 4 LLC, which will pursue foreclosure.

Staff writer Paige Rentz: 256-235-3564. On Twitter @PRentz_Star.

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