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BB&T unveils design for new downtown building

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Plans for a new BB&T building in downtown Wilson got the go-ahead during a design review meeting Tuesday.

“I’d like to compliment you on a well put together presentation,” said Bruce Carroll, a board member who made a motion during a November meeting against rezoning a park to make way for the BB&T development. “The plan looks like you took the historic architecture Wilson has and incorporated it.”

In August, BB&T announced a plan to invest $35 million in a new four-story headquarters near the Nash Street towers that house several hundred employees. The plan included a land swap with the bank receiving the site of the Paul V. Berry Hickory Grove Park on Kenan Street from the city in exchange for the land the towers currently occupy. In November, several residents opposed rezoning the park to city center mixed use to make way for the redevelopment, but it was approved by the planning board and city council.

Ellen Hoj, senior urban designer for Wilson, said Tuesday’s meeting was solely to review the design of the proposed building and staff will handle future site and landscape plans.

“The general orientation of the site plan is on the Pine Street end of the parcel,” Hoj said. “The landscaped plan for the parking lot is the best for any parking lot in Wilson as well as the buffer to the neighbors that will be reviewed at a later date.”

BB&T plans to leave the fountain and bricked area on the corner of Pine and Kenan streets. The building will not be exactly parallel to Pine Street, but at a slight angle rather than blocking the fountain area.

“We’re trying to engage the fountain area as part of the streetscape,” said Frank DeBolt, senior design architect with Little Diversified Architectural Consulting. “We’re trying to make the amount of park space bigger along Moss and Pine streets.”

The building itself is a combination of red brick and glass, which Hoj described as “a contemporary and modern interpretation with some historic reference visible from Pine Street.”

Also during the planning board portion of the meeting, Wilson Chief Planning and Development Officer Rodger Lentz discussed a proposal to lessen development restrictions around the Wilson Industrial Air Center.

“We have an airport that has been around for some time with three runways and various protection zones around it,” Lentz said. “There are all kinds of residential structures in those areas and I appreciate the steps taken in 2006 for land use control, but they are designed for an airport with far more traffic than ours.”

Lentz said the airport in western Wilson has around 40 take-offs and landings a day, mostly involving propeller plans rather than jets. Reducing the development restrictions would not eliminate the height controls in place, but allow for landowners to develop on property that is beyond a safety zone at the end of each runway.