A major new hotel development and the remodeling of a long-established local bank soon could reshape another bustling corner of downtown Auburn.
AuburnBank president and CEO Bob Dumas announced plans Friday to redevelop and potentially sell a section of land to a boutique lifestyle hotel adjacent to the East Magnolia Avenue and Burton Lane.
The proposed main-campus construction project and portion of land – a gravel parking lot - being considered are surrounded by Gay Street, East Magnolia Avenue and Burton Lane.
“We are very excited about our project,” Dumas said. “It’s providing our customers, shareholders and employees a more efficient arrangement in one facility. It’s better access for our customers, and a more efficient layout. We have a commitment to downtown Auburn, and it’s vibrancy since we been here in 1907. We’ve been in this facility since 1964.
“I don’t have any definitive renderings,” Dumas said. “We are working on it. We are hopeful to move forward as quickly as we can finalize plans and specifics. We have not set up a deadline, but we are in the process of working on those things.”
The bank adjacent to the Gay Street and East Magnolia Avenue intersection will be reconstructed, and when the project is complete, the AuburnBank Center will relocate into the new facility, Dumas explained
“The redevelopment project will combine our existing, aging facilities into a new building,” Dumas said. “Tentatively, the plans will be to move from our existing bank facility into our operations facility and run our bank retail from there during the construction period. We would remain on the same campus in our operations center.”
Dumas said AuburnBank will provide more details in September a s plans of the project come to fruition.
“We will know more in about three months following a feasibility study and ongoing planning with the developer,” Dumas said. “As this initiative moves forward, we will share regular updates as appropriate and continue to provide the same quality service our customers have come to know and expect.”
Auburn Mayor Ron Anders said the 112-year partnership between AuburnBank and the city has been excellent, and that he understands the bank’s desire to grow.
“They are currently functioning in an older facility that’s a make-shift theater,” Anders said. “To understand that they would like to modernize and grow, it makes all the sense in the world to me. I have a lot of faith and trust in the leadership of AuburnBank, and I know without question that they will do a first-class project.
"It will be very meaningful and appropriate for the city of Auburn.”
AuburnBank has established a preliminary agreement with a hotel development company to sell its gravel parking area on the junction of East Magnolia Avenue and Burton Lane, Dumas said.
“They plan to develop a full-service boutique lifestyle hotel,” Dumas said. “We believe this development will be a great addition to our site and a unique opportunity for downtown Auburn. We don’t have a final agreement. We are in discussions with them about the possibility of them purchasing the land and constructing a boutique hotel there, but nothing has been finalized on that at this point.”
Dumas emphasized the hotel development company wished to remain anonymous until plans are finalized.
The boutique hotel developer has maintained a long-term interest to find a suitable location in the downtown area, Anders mentioned.
“This boutique hotel has been evaluating the downtown market for a long time now, and at the time, the developers of that hotel felt like Auburn was a great market for their services,” Anders said. “My guess is that they still believe Auburn is a great market for their services.”
In February, the hotel development company Lifestyle + Hotel Group from Rosemary Beach, Florida, ceased negotiations with property owners Godbold Development Partners, LLC. to construct the Southern Living Hotel between Quixotes and Regions Bank on North College Street.
Lifestyle + Hotel Group CEO and president William Shoaf said the hotel would have a “Southern Living” aesthetic, a Bo Jackson restaurant and the culinary talent of Chris Hastings, a James Beard Award-winning chef from Birmingham.
After ending its collaboration with the property owners, Shoaf said the Lifestyle + Hotel Group would continue to search for an appropriate location to construct the hotel.
However, no one with the company would comment Friday on any new plans for building in Auburn, nor confirm or deny if it is involved in the new development considerations.