BofA shutters, weighs options for Brookland Park branch

The Highland Park branch at 1307 E. Brookland Park Blvd. closed in March. (Michael Schwartz)

The Highland Park branch at 1307 E. Brookland Park Blvd. closed in March. (Michael Schwartz)

A financial giant has exited a Northside Richmond neighborhood, leaving its real estate – and the banking market in that part of town – up for grabs.

Bank of America last month shut down its branch at 1307 E. Brookland Park Blvd. The closure came despite pushback from neighboring businesses and residents, who, with City Councilwoman Ellen Robertson on their side, tried to change the bank’s mind.

They argued that the BofA outpost is the only bank branch in the neighborhood, with the next closest being 2½ miles away. The closure, they said, leaves the area without an easily accessible, traditional banking alternative to payday lenders and check-cashing shops.

The group saw the closure as particularly ill-timed, pointing to recent interest in the neighborhood from developers and new business.

BofA has said the closure was based on the location’s performance from declining customer traffic, coupled with changes in overall branch traffic due to online and mobile banking. The branch held $13.53 million in deposits as of June 30, 2016, according to FDIC records – far below the deposit levels of any of BofA’s 23 offices in the Richmond metro market.

BofA spokesman Lawrence Grayson said the bank is assessing its options for the property, which it has owned since taking it over from predecessor Sovran Bank.

Grayson said those options include donating the building, like the bank did in 2013, when it donated its shuttered East End branch at 1718 Williamsburg Road to local nonprofit Youth With A Mission.

Megan Rollins, president and CEO of Boaz & Ruth, a nonprofit that is based in the neighborhood and was part of the effort to keep the branch open, said her organization was told the bank is willing to work with the neighborhood about the future use of the building.

“Community members, nonprofits and our council person, Ellen Robertson, are brainstorming ideas to pitch to the bank,” Rollins said.

Grayson added that BofA has left open its ATM outside the branch for residents to continue using, a service Rollins said the neighborhood is grateful for.

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3 Comments on "BofA shutters, weighs options for Brookland Park branch"

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John Dane

Just another reason to choose a community based bank rather than a national bank for your deposit and credit needs. There is tremendous growth and new investment happening in Northside and it was pretty myopic for Bank of America to abandon their depositors in the midst of all the good that is happening there.

ron virgin

If the location can be profitable, another bank will take its place.

Bert Hapablap

The problem is, brick and mortar bank branches are not as profitable as they once were. Just like retail sales businesses, banks are pulling back on physical locations as people move to more online options. A big, old building like this would probably be hard to be profitable with upkeep. This building may be better used as some other sort of business.