One of Towson's oldest bank buildings soon will be shuttered, creating another vacancy along York Road during a multimillion-dollar project to revitalize the aging business district.
The NationsBank branch in the 500 block of York Road will close its doors July 11, consolidating services at a bank center a block away on Pennsylvania Avenue.
"We have a tremendous amount of overlap," said Dave Millman, NationsBank regional executive for suburban Baltimore. "Economically, it made no sense to keep that place open. Virtually, it was doing no business."
No one will be laid off, he said. Employees will be transferred to other branches.
NationsBank, which owns the 72-year-old limestone building, is offering it for sale or lease. No contract has been signed.
But county business leaders and elected officials are certain the bank building will attract tenants. "I would expect another bank would want the landmark location," said Baltimore County Councilman Douglas B. Riley, a Towson Republican.
Added Craig Parker, president of the Towson Business Association, "Of course, we hate to see another vacant building. But a building with parking behind it and with its history, it shouldn't take too long to sell or rent."
According to historical records, the bank, designed by noted Baltimore architect George Norbury Mackenzie, was built in 1925 and opened as the Bank of Baltimore County in 1926.
The bank failed during the Depression. The building reopened as a bank in the early 1930s and has housed a bank since, including Maryland National Bank for several decades until it was acquired by NationsBank in 1993.
Although the building is not listed on the county landmarks list, John McGrain, a county historian, said the brown stone used for the exterior -- probably from the Butler quarries -- was a popular building material at the time.
"It must have been fashionable then. It still holds up today."
The bank vacancy comes at a time when several other Towson businesses have closed in the past year, including the billiard parlor in the former Finkelstein's department store and Flutie Garcia's restaurant, both in the 400 block of York Road, and the Wendy's restaurant at York and West Chesapeake Avenue.
But county officials said the empty buildings are not related to construction of a roundabout to ease traffic through the heart of Towson and sidewalk improvements during the county's and state's $4.3 million enhancement project. They said the streetscape should help improve the business climate.
"We are confident it will improve the context for doing business and improve property values and increase interest in investing in Towson," said Ray Heil, county streetscape manager.
Pub Date: 5/13/97