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Key Bank upgrades on hold

A proposal to upgrade and overhaul the Delmar Key Bank has been withdrawn by the national bank chain.

Bethlehem Director of Economic Development and Planning Michael Morelli confirmed to The Spotlight that Key Bank is no longer seeking to renovate its branch in Bethlehem due mainly to economic factors and not criticisms of the town's planning board.

They're doing renovations all across the nation but they decided to put it on hold here, Morelli said. "The decision was made at their headquarters in Cleveland, but I don't think we're the only ones."

Morelli cited an expensive architectural design and material costs during a shaky economy may have been the impetus to hold off on some of the bank's proposed upgrades, which included pursuing a drive-through window at the bank.

Architect Pete Gillies, who was representing the project, told the planning board in December that there were other design possibilities but financial constraints had come into play.

The last Key Bank proposal in front of the planning board was to renovate the actual building, along with several changes to the site that would include new planters, walkways and park benches. Problems arose when architects originally sought to place the bank's heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment on the roof of building and make the three separate units of the building appear as one. They eventually decided to keep the HVAC system on the ground.

Board member John Smolinsky asked why the roof was flat even though the HVAC apparatus was going to remain on the ground level. Engineer Scott Allen of Woodword, Connors, Gillies and Selleman, responded by saying it was "functional to tie the building together."

Allen said his firm "tried to adhere to the hamlet guidelines," and create a two-story appearance even though the structure's roof varied greatly from each section of the building.

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