Bank building set for makeover

MANCHESTER - Work on the former Factory Point Bank will get underway soon, if all goes according to plan.

The bank, a landmark structure on Main street, was recently purchased by a corporate subsidiary owned by local businessman Bill Drunsic. His son, Stephen Drunsic, is guiding the project.

So far, Stephen Drunsic said the project is still in the very beginning phases. While there has been activity at the bank, he said the work has mostly been on assessing any code changes that need to be made.

As for what's going into the bank, it is still too early for anything set in stone, but there are a few more details available.

"We are pretty much sticking with either four or five loft condominiums on second floor," Drunsic said.

There has been substantial interest in this portion of the process, he said.

While the layout has not been set, some of the interested parties have asked for two bedroom units. Accommodating that request will be seen as the design process progresses, but Drunsic said the range of the condominium size will be 800 t0 1,200 feet.

The lower two floors has also seen some discussion about what will go in. Drunsic stressed that whatever goes into the bottom floor will have a local, craft, Vermontish theme.

"In terms of the retail and the basement floors we've also gotten a number of interested parties with what we're doing with the space," he said. "We don't have anything new to provide, [but the] focus is to ensure that whoever occupies the space will have Vermont-centric craft, retail ventures." In one case, he said there is an individual who is working very hard to put together a plan that includes interesting food products, possibly a test kitchen - similar to Stonewall Kitchen in Maine, a specialty food and kitchen supplies store.

While there has not been a final decision, Drunsic said he has heard lots of interest in the brew pub concept for the lower level of the building. He said they have had discussion with John O'Keefe, town manager, about what the limitations for the building's sewer and water allocation. Berta Maginniss, executive director of The Manchester and The Mountains Chamber of Commerce, said the bank being revitalized is great for the historic downtown of Manchester.

"We think this is terrific, revitalizing a building which has been a centerpiece of our downtown, is great," she said. "This will complete our historic main street."

The project has not yet been presented in front of the Design and Development Review Board, but Drunsic said they hope to present sometime in the fall. Then they will be able to start the demolition process. He stressed while there will be significant changes to the inside, they plan on preserving the historic integrity of the facade. Placing the building on the national historic register was discussed, but Drunsic said after some research, they decided against seeking the recognition, as it limits what they can do with the building.

"This building was significantly renovated in the 1970s, when this building was occupied by Factory Point Bank," he said. "There's not too much of historic value inside the building. It's really just the facade, obviously we are very sensitive to ensuring the historic, architectural integrity is not only preserved, but restored to its former glory. We think people will be quite pleased with the final product."


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