New owner plans changes to Farmington bank facade, stairs

One of downtown Farmington’s most challenging sidewalk areas will soon get a makeover, thanks to the Village Mall’s new owners.

GLP Financial has begun renovations to the former Farmington State Savings Bank building at the corner of Grand River and Farmington Road. During Monday’s electronic Planning Commission meeting, the company received approval for facade improvements that include restoring the stone front, replacing windows, and entry doors.

Farmington State Savings Bank plan
This rendering shows the Farmington Road side of the Farmington State Savings Bank facade improvements.

Economic and Community Development Director Kevin Christiansen said the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Design Committee recommended approval of plans, with the exception of window wells located on the Farmington Road side of the building.

Kevin Biddison of Biddison Architecture said opening up several window wells underneath the sidewalk would bring light and possibly fresh air into the basement level. In addition, plans call for eliminating a stairwell that formerly provided an entrance for Plus Skateboarding, now relocated to a Grand River storefront.

The stairs, protected by a gated fence, narrow the sidewalk. Biddison said original plans called for filling in the stairs and creating another window well, with a low retaining wall. The Design Committee, however, recommended using glass block or a grate.

“It’s come to make sense that those would not be open railings and window wells, but a walkable surface to maintain as much space on the sidewalk,” Biddison said.

Windows, which are now about five feet above the sidewalk, will be replaced with 1-inch insulated glass windows and brought down two feet, inside and out.

“Our intent is to bring those the inside floors and the people back to the sidewalk and vice versa,” Biddison said.

Commissioner Miriam Kmetzo asked whether energy efficiency improvements had been considered. Biddison said the historic building  currently is “very energy inefficient. There’s essentially no insulation in the bank building and no roof insulation.”

In addition to insulated window glass, plans call for insulation in the walls and replacing the tar roof with an insulated rubber roof that meets energy codes. A cupola that is in bad repair, with original, single pane windows, will be replaced with one that lets in additional light.

You’ll find the meeting video and supporting materials for this agenda item at farmgov.com/City-Services/Government/Agendas-and-Minutes/Planning/2020.aspx.

Reported by