Making a Statement
On paper — and on a map — it’s only a few blocks, really.
But United Bank’s relocation of its office in downtown Springfield, from the corner of Main and State streets to the front of Monarch Place, constitutes a major move in all other respects.
The new address — formerly home to a Bank of America branch that closed its doors several months ago — is projected to bring everything from much greater visibility to significantly higher foot traffic, to a likely surge in commercial-side market share as business owners based in the center of downtown take advantage of another bank opening on that site.
“There was a void left by Bank of America’s departure,” said Tony Liberopoulos, regional commercial executive for United, adding that the bank will move aggressively to fill that void.
Dena Hall, Western Mass. regional president and chief marketing officer, agreed.
“This is one of the premier locations in the city, particularly with the renovations currently taking place at Monarch and all the exciting things happening in that area,” she said, noting that a Starbucks soon to go into that building is just one of the items on that list. “We’re thrilled to be there.”
Indeed, even though the bank’s current location downtown is almost directly across Main Street from the $950 million MGM Springfield casino now taking shape and due to open in about a year — and would no doubt see a surge in retail traffic from that development — that branch is limited in many ways, said Hall.
Elaborating, she said that location is relatively small and, more to the point, cannot easily be renovated and enlarged to provide everything that the bank wants to provide the customers downtown.
“Our new branch will really give them that ‘wow’ factor of high technology, an open landscape, and everything people expect today,” she said, adding that the Monarch Place location offers an intriguing blank canvas, if you will.
That’s why United, based in Glastonbury, Conn. and with a main office locally in West Springfield, moved assertively to seize what she called a tremendous opportunity when BOA announced it was closing that location.
“I’m not sure how many other banks looked at it, but I know we moved quickly and started the conversations,” said Hall, adding that the location presents opportunities in many forms, and from many directions.
For starters, there are the many businesses based within a few blocks of the site, most all of them with owners desiring to bank conveniently.
“That Bank of America branch had a lot of commercial clients that utilized that location,” said Liberopoulos. “The buildings all around it are full of commercial clients, and we look at that as an opportunity to grow our commercial base as well as our deposit base. I think there’s a lot of businesses looking forward to having another bank in Monarch Place; we think it’s a great opportunity for us.”
Also, there is the enhanced foot traffic already in evidence downtown due to a slew of new developments in the central business district and growing convention and meeting business — not to mention the additional traffic downtown expected to be generated by MGM Springfield.
Add it all up, and the Monarch Place location seemed to be the right place at the right time, said Hall. And to take full advantage of all that the location presents in terms of opportunities, the bank is building a branch that will be full-service in every respect.
Hall said the branch will be modern and open, but it will still feature what she called a “neighborhood branch” approach, meaning it will have tellers, but also cash recyclers.
“It will be set up to service the retail and business customer in any way they want or need to bank with us,” she explained. “But it will also have a more modern feel to it than some of the current United branches.
Construction began roughly a month ago, she went on, and the branch is due to be open by the end of the year. United will occupy about 3,000 square feet, which is roughly half the old BOA footprint.
As noted earlier, the move is not significant in terms of geography — the bank is only moving a few hundred yards to the north — but it’s a meaningful move forward, said Hall.
“This positions us very well,” she said. “We’ve made some big commitments to Springfield — we’re very committed to the Thunderbirds and to business development and community support in the area. So we feel that moving to this new location will further highlight some of the commitments we’re making to the city and give us some really nice new space in the best building in Springfield.”