Sean O’Rourke, an architect with Bergmann Associates, shares his design for a proposed TD Bank in Great Falls at the Grange Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Photo by Alex McVeigh.
Members of the team representing TD Bank made another presentation in Great Falls Tuesday, Sept. 25, providing details about the future of gas stations in Great Falls, as well as an update on the architecture of the proposed building that would be erected on the current site of the Exxon station.
The station ceased pumping gas earlier this month, and auto repair service will continue to run until early next year. The property is owned by Fairfax Petroleum, a wholesale gasoline distributor. Fairfax Petroleum also leases the Shell station across the street, which will eventually be the sole service station and gas station in Great Falls.
“When the Exxon dealer goes over to the Shell, he will be a franchisee, and independent operator, he will control the pricing,” said William Crowe, the representative for property owner Joe Mamo. “He will have a purchase agreement for the fuel with us, he will be a tenant on the site, but he will make the decisions on how the business is run, including the price of gas.”
MANY RESIDENTS have questioned the decision to close one of two gas stations in Great Falls, but Crowe said the numbers in Great Falls do not support two stations.
“The reality is, while there are two service stations, the purchasing is at the rate of one site. A typical site can do between $1.6 and $2.2 million. If I combine the sales for both of the sites, they don’t even get to $1.6 million. That’s just the way it is,” he said. “In general, a lot of the residents in the area have probably found somewhere else more convenient. We’re confident that we can handle the volume that’s there today with the one Shell station.”
Residents who have questioned the decision to get rid of one of Great Falls’ gas station also question the proposal to put a TD Bank on that location, given that there are already six banks in the Great Falls commercial center.
But Lori Murphy of Bean, Kinney and Korman, the land use attorney for TD Bank, says the market research shows a need for another bank.
“The market studies do show that there is a need in this area, that there are enough deposited funds in the area,” Murphy said. “A financial institution on its own is a by right use of the property, it does not require any planning and zoning review. If a bank wanted to have just a bank, they would submit an application for a building permit, and go through that review process. But because there is a drive-in component, that necessitates a special exception, and that’s why we’re going through this lengthy process and refining this site plan.”
Murphy said that TD Bank has not filed an application for a special exception yet, because they are hosting a series of meetings in order to solicit citizen input before submitting a final design.
SEAN O’ROURKE, the senior project planner and architect from Bergmann Associates, presented his latest design at the Sept. 25 meeting. He said the proposed building, which would be about 50 by 50 feet, incorporates some elements of the community.
He also stressed that the Great Falls building will be a one-of a kind design.
“We have a corner element that’s two-sided, made out of stone that’s very similar to what you see in the fire station. It also has a stone wainscot that runs along the base of the building, the rest of the building is clapboard, non-aluminum siding, a composite siding,” he said. “We look at the design, and think it’s not an icon, it’s not a building that tries to stand out, it tries to fit in your neighborhood. The design will never be built in another community, and it’s never been built before by TD Bank.”
O’Rourke also said that the bank will most likely be LEED certified at some level. TD Bank has had 32 buildings certified LEED in the last year, and 10 of those have been certified LEED Platinum.
TD Bank is expected to revise their designs after community input, and will present the new designs at a future meeting.