Sunday, April 21, 2013

Columbia Bank's Acquisition of West Coast Bank: No New Drive-Through in Historic District?

With the corner of State and Commercial in the news, your thoughts might have turned to the empty lot across the street.

At one time Columbia Bank was proposing a new bank building and drive-through for it.

The plans would have deliberately avoided creating a continuous procession of storefronts, and filled in half the lot with another surface parking lot.  The corner building wasn't bad at all, but the disposition of parking and reliance on drive-through traffic in the historic district was bad.
In today's paper Michael Rose's interview with Columbia Bank's CEO suggests those plans might be abandoned.

She says:
Q: Do you plan to keep the same type of presence that West Coast Bank has had in Salem for years?

A: We will be consolidating a Columbia office (which the company established in downtown Salem pre-merger) with a larger office. The branches are a few blocks away from each other, and there’s more space in the former West Coast building.
The former West Coast site is on Church Street between Center and Chemeketa Streets and has an existing drive-through as well as a generous surface parking lot in back along the alley. Though the Chemeketa Street facade isn't the friendliest, it's not a terrible arrangement, and on balance is a much better location than in the historic district.  A preliminary inquiry with the City suggested the building permits for the new building and drive-through were inactive, so the project looks dormant or dead from that standpoint as well.

Together this is pretty good news.

As advocates look to revise the ways Salem's code and regulations handle street trees, it might be opportune to revisit the question of drive-throughs, which can also cause great harm to the walking environment.

(For more on the history of the drive-through debate, see here and here.)

No comments: