Last reminder: The final zoning workshop is tonight at 6 pm, Human Services Building at Fornance and Dekalb.
This morning on Facebook I saw this ad for the old bank building at 1 West Main (at Swede St.). They've newly renovated the place, though the interior was always one of Norristown's most beautiful architectural spaces. I remember going inside with my dad when I was a kid. It always brought to mind the bank in "Mary Poppins"--like a Hushed, grand cathedral of capitalism. The building itself was perhaps the best manifestation of Norristown's prosperity in the first 60 years of the 20th century. You looked at it and felt the town would always be economically stable.
When I was growing up, there were scads of banks on Main Street--Commonwealth, Continental, Peoples, American, etc. Now we don't have even that many in the whole town. Lots of ATMs, sure, but we're not seen as a place where residents want to sit and talk to a banker about investments, business loans, college funds or safe deposit boxes. And all the banks are probably afraid they'll be robbed here.
I doubt the first floor of 1 West Main will ever be a bank again--banks don't want the "Mary Poppins" look anymore--but it would make a dandy restaurant, or a multi-use space--sit-down restaurant on one side, kiosks on the other, all open to take advantage of the light from the immense windows.
Still, I have to wonder about all this talk at the zoning workshops
about putting new 10-story buildings on Main Street. If we can't keep
tenants in the existing tall buildings that we have now, how will more
empty high-rises help? Better to fill our existing vacant stores on Main
with goods and services that all those extra County employees will
consume on their lunch hours. Once the Lafayette corridor's done and the
Riverfront development's underway, we can reassess the demand for
office space in new Main Street high-rises.