from the former Oliver’s
First Tennessee Bank finalized the move of its main branch from Raider Drive to Keith Street on Friday.
Monday will be the first day of operation in the new building, which formerly housed Oliver’s Restaurant.
As the final items were being moved Friday, community president Michael Griffin said the future of the multi-level office building on Raider Drive remains undetermined. The facility sits across from the Cleveland High School complex.
“It’s a great building,” Griffin said. “It will make a great home for someone.”
The Raider Drive location has been sold and has been offered to the city of Cleveland by its new owner, Forrest Preston, chief executive officer of Life Care Centers of America. In the months since Preston’s original offer, the Cleveland City Council and Cleveland Board of Education have discussed potential future operations for the facility. To date, no decisions have been made.
Cleveland Director of Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff and the city school board have stepped forward to express an interest in the former First Tennessee Bank central office; however, no plans have been confirmed as yet by the City Council.
First Tennessee’s new facility — the former Oliver’s location — contains 7,100 square feet as opposed to the 48,000 square-foot Raider Drive location.
Renovation and construction costs for the new location have totaled $1.6 million, according to First Tennessee properties manager Rod Varnell.
“We looked very hard to find a convenient location for our customers,” Griffin said. “Everyone has said that is a great location (former Oliver’s) right there on Keith Street.”
Griffin said the new location will be smaller, thereby allowing employees to work more closely together.
First Tennessee will also be merging the Mouse Creek Road branch with the main office.
“We’re not shrinking,” Griffin said. “We are looking to grow in the right ways in the right areas.”
The new office gives the banking operation a chance to upgrade to include technology, such as hand scanners for accessing the safety deposit box vault, already offered at other locations.
Sam McReynolds was bank president for the former Cleveland Bank and Trust when the company built the four- story building.
“This was the only place we could find with sufficient space to build a building this size,” McReynolds said.
Merging with First Tennessee and advances in technology eventually made the large building unnecessary.
“When the two banks merged ... there were several areas that were consolidated,” Griffin said.
The building’s size not only became too great for the bank’s needs, but it also became an added expense because of unused office space.
The third and fourth floors of the building had been vacant for some time and were being used as storage for excess furniture, Griffin said. This furniture has now been donated to local nonprofit organizations and schools. A few recipients include United Way of Bradley County Inc., Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland, Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region, Cleveland Bradley County Public Library, the Children’s Home/Chambliss Shelter, area schools and other groups.
During the transition from the existing building, employees recovered a variety of old photographs and mementoes that have been used to decorate the new Keith Street facility.