Local bank follows Wegmans to Short Pump

The site where the Essex branch will be built, with TJ Maxx taking shape in the background. (Michael Schwartz)

The site where the Essex branch will be built, with TJ Maxx taking shape in the background. (Michael Schwartz)

A Wegmans and Cabela’s-anchored shopping center in western Henrico has hooked a bank tenant.

Locally based Essex Bank has struck a deal to build a new branch in West Broad Marketplace, a 61-acre development still taking shape west of Short Pump Town Center.

Essex CEO Rex Smith said the company will build and own a 5,000-square-foot building on a site at the corner of Cabelas Drive and the road that goes back to Wegmans. Cabela’s opened its 82,000-square-foot store in April, and Wegmans is set to open its 120,000-square-foot store on Aug. 7.

The bank was attracted by the chance to get in front of the traffic those two stores are expected to bring.

“Being on the main drag into Wegmans is a great opportunity for us,” Smith said.

The bank has a ground lease for the site and will build and own the building. Smith said the bank will occupy half of the new property, with the other half to be leased to out.

“We’re going to look for a tenant that works with us to help drive traffic in,” he said.

The bank will look to be up and running by April 2017. A general contractor has yet to be selected for the project. Smith said the bank expects to spend just under $1 million all in.

When completed, West Broad Marketplace will have nearly 400,000 square feet of retail space. Its developer is Northern Virginia-based NVRetail, which owns the site along with Excel Trust, a West Coast REIT that owns a bulk of nearby West Broad Village.

The shopping center is one of several projects that are extending the boundaries of Short Pump ever westward. It’s joined in that effort by Atack Properties’ Broad Hill Centre, which adjoins West Broad Marketplace to the west, and Markel-Eagle’s 75-acre GreenGate across Broad Street to the south.

The new location will give Essex its first outpost in the heart of the Short Pump market. It already has a branch a few miles west over the Goochland County line in Manakin-Sabot, but Smith said he wanted to have a spot in the midst of the action.

“It’s on the west side of 288,” Smith said of the Manakin-Sabot branch, “so we felt like we need to be on the east side on the main drag.”

That Goochland County location was the old headquarters of the former Bank of Goochland, one of several rural banks that came together to form the present incarnation of Essex Bank. The branch will remain open along with the West Broad Marketplace location, Smith said.

Essex is also making a move southwest of Short Pump to open its 24th branch.

It’s working to open a new location later this summer in Cumberland County at 1496 Anderson Highway. The bank purchased the former BB&T branch in mid-May for $265,000, according to Cumberland County records.

“That’s a great little community and it’s under-banked,” Smith said. “We do very well in the rural communities because that’s our background.”

The local growth follows Essex’s expansion in recent years into Maryland and Northern Virginia, most recently in Fairfax.

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