Development of the SunTrust Bank building provided more than 8,000 sq. ft. of space for the bank with an additional 5,000 sq. ft. of retail along W. Ponce de Leon Avenue. The bank was required to place all parking behind the building and the drive-in banking facility at the rear of the site, with driveway access restricted to a rear street. The developers funded the construction of streetscape improvements along the Commerce Drive side of the property.
The project was the product of months of negotiations with the developer to ensure that the building would be an asset to downtown Decatur. The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) advocated for a higher density building because it was felt that a one-story branch bank was too suburban in appearance and not the highest and best use for this important downtown corner. As a compromise, the developer agreed to design the building to appear closer to two stories in height. The developer also made several design modifications, increased the percentage of glass and worked to improve the traditional retail appearance of the Ponce de Leon frontage.
Another issue was a requested driveway entrance at Ponce de Leon Avenue. Thanks to the support of a number of Decatur residents, the Planning Commission and the Decatur City Commission, the developer agreed to omit the Ponce de Leon Avenue curb cut. While the project improved the appearance of this important downtown corner, it offered several indirect improvements too. First, the SunTrust drive-in banking hut located on the opposite corner was closed, freeing up this key block for redevelopment. Second, the developer agreed to permanently close the driveway “courtyard” adjacent to the Old Courthouse and next to Quizno’s. The driveway created a number of traffic and pedestrian safety problems. Finally, the SunTrust move from the square opened up a beautiful, historic building for a more appropriate use.