Florence Bank’s New Hampden County Banking Center Under Construction
Civic, bank and business leaders gathered April 27 for celebratory hard hat tour
WEST SPRINGFIELD—Construction is underway on a 9,000-square-foot plaza at 1010 Union St., one third of which will house Florence Bank’s new Hampden County Banking Center, scheduled to open this summer.
John Heaps Jr., Florence Bank’s president and CEO, is confident the time is right for an expansion into Hampden County, and community leaders who attended a hard hat tour at the construction site on April 27 said they are excited to welcome the bank as part of a city-wide commitment to new business.
“Our goal is business development,” West Springfield Mayor Will Reichelt told a crowd of roughly 50 civic, business and bank leaders who gathered for a celebratory hard hat tour with Developer Frank Colaccino and architects, attorneys and other professionals involved in the project.
“We’ve been developing the Memorial Drive corridor, and we’re doing that because of businesses like Florence Bank,” Reichelt said. “We’re happy that Memorial Drive is becoming another major corridor.”
West Springfield City Councilor Bruce Gendron, also at the event, chairs the Ordinance and Policy Committee, which the mayor said is working to restructure the city’s zoning laws to make West Springfield more welcoming to new business. “We want to make it easy to open the doors and get business done,” he said. “It’s good for the businesses, and it’s good for West Springfield.”
Others in attendance included Fire Chief Bill Flaherty; Rick Sullivan, president of the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts; and Florence Bank board members John Ebbets and Bob Borawski, and board chair Ruth Constantine, as well as Corporator Tanya Barber.
Heaps, the bank’s CEO since 1995, said that what has made this year a good one for expanding to the south are recent bank mergers and acquisitions that have left Springfield without a local bank headquartered there.
“That’s a unique opportunity for us, and we’re taking advantage of that void,” Heaps said.
Florence Bank is unique in that it’s a mutually-held bank, and Heaps said that mutuality allows it to make decisions about what’s best for customers and the community without input from stockholders.
“The Springfield area needs our kind of independent institution,” he said.
In the next three to five years, Heaps said Florence Bank plans to open two to three additional branches in the Greater Springfield area—a strategic direction that began in 2007 with a loan production office in West Springfield, the success of which is responsible for transforming the bank’s total commercial loan portfolio to more than 36 percent from Hampden County-based businesses.
Between the loan center, a visible ATM in Springfield, a relationship with the Basketball Hall of Fame and employees—like Heaps—who live in Hampden County, the bank can already boast of nearly 3,000 personal banking customers and over 400 commercial clients in the Greater Springfield region. The bank also has a relationship with 97 nonprofits in Hampden County that have received over $300,000 in grants and gifts in the past five years.
The Colvest Group, Ltd. of Springfield is developing the building where St. Ann Roman Catholic Church was once located, at the intersection of Union Street and Memorial Avenue. It’s expected that, by the end of May, a team of local subcontractors hired by the bank will be able to get inside and do what’s called “the tenant set-up,” according to Mark Cavanaugh, the bank’s facilities director.
Solidus of Bloomfield, Conn., will oversee that interior work, which Cavanaugh said will include framing walls and ceilings, installing partitions and lighting, and laying carpet.
The building’s exterior will feature stone wainscoting on the first few feet near ground level—already in place—and tan siding and multiple windows across the front. Florence Bank will occupy one third—or 3,000 square feet—of the new plaza, and up to three additional commercial tenants will fill the remaining space, said developer Colaccino.
“We certainly think it’s a high-quality location, and the building is very attractive, Colaccino said. “We’re excited to have Florence Bank as our anchor tenant, and we’re confident we’ll have some good-quality tenants in addition to Florence Bank.”
Colaccino thanked the building’s architect and all the professionals—in private business and in West Springfield—who have helped expedite development. “It takes a whole team of people to get something like this done,” he said at the bank’s hard hat event.
“West Springfield is a great place to do business,” he said. “It’s an exciting project. Florence Bank is here, and Florence Bank is a great bank to do business with. We’re happy to not only be your customer but your landlord as well.”
The Hampden County Banking Center
All of Florence Bank’s services will be offered through the new Hampden County Banking Center.
The full complement of offerings includes deposits and loan products, mobile services to provide 24-hour access to accounts, mortgage application services, debit card issuance, commercial loan services and investment services. The center will also offer a drive-up ATM and night depository.
The center will be staffed by eight employees including: Maureen Buxton, Branch Manager; Stephanie Moore, Assistant Branch Manager; commercial lenders James Montemayor, Henry Downey and mortgage loan originator Susan Seaver, and John Ernst of Florence Bank’s Financial Group will also be available by appointment.
Florence has branches in Amherst, Belchertown, Easthampton, Granby, Hadley, Northampton and Williamsburg and is headquartered in Florence.