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Mutual Savings moving downtown

By Evan Belanger · 340-2442

Decatur-based Mutual Savings Life Insurance Co. will move its base of operations to the former AmSouth building in downtown Decatur.

A city councilman confirmed the 80-year-old insurance company is relocating from its home on U.S. 31 South to the old AmSouth building at Second Avenue Northeast and Holly Street Northeast.

Most of the former AmSouth building was vacated last month, part of the AmSouth-Regions bank merger.

Mutual is expected to make its move in late September, said District 2 City Councilman David Bolding on Tuesday. But Mutual’s senior vice president, Clark Whitaker, did not respond to phone calls to confirm the details.

“They’re ready to rock ’n’ roll, I think,” Bolding said.

It was not clear Tuesday if Mutual intends to purchase the old bank building or lease it. The Morgan County probate office had no record of an ownership change.

At least part of the upcoming move for Mutual has been entered into public record.

During its next meeting Aug. 20, the City Council will consider a measure allowing 110 Mutual employees to access parking spaces at the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts during business hours. City attorney Herman Marks Jr. said use of the parking spaces will be subject to events at the Princess.

If approved, that agreement will commence Sept. 30.

Helping downtown

With Mutual potentially bringing more than 100 employees to the downtown area on a daily basis, Bolding and Rick Paler, vice chairman of Decatur’s Downtown Redevelopment Authority, said the move couldn’t come at a better time.

“I think it’s excellent,” Paler said.

“The more foot traffic we get downtown, the more we drive the need for more businesses, be they retail or dining or whatever.”

“We just got our downtown revitalization kicked off,” Bolding said. “So, it’s all working together.”

Discussion about a possible move for Mutual dates back nearly two years. In December 2005, company officials issued a statement that it was considering a move to improve its efficiency.

“Although the building we currently occupy is very attractive, technology today can allow us to operate in a much smaller facility,” company officials said in the statement.

It became apparent in May of this year that Mutual was committed to the relocation when officials with Central Baptist Church on Grant Street in downtown Decatur, voted to purchase Mutual’s building on U.S. 31 and convert it into a church.

Church officials expect work on the 29-acre facility to be complete by summer 2008.

Emmanuel Church International on Eighth Street Southwest at Central Parkway, is expected to purchase the old Central church building once it is vacated.

Founded locally in 1927, Mutual began with a $6,000 capital investment.

Its assets today are valued at about $544 million today, according to the company’s Web site.

In 1998, Mutual was purchased by Primesco, a privately held company formed specifically to purchase Mutual. Primesco is controlled by about 20 shareholders.

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