Local bank eyes two new branches

essex branch

An Essex Bank branch in West Broad Marketplace. (Mike Platania)

For a pair of new branches, a Henrico-based bank is hitching its wagon once again to grocery chain Wegmans and going back for seconds in Lynchburg.

Essex Bank, continuing a steady pace of expansion over several years, has two new locations in the works: one in the Stonehenge Village Shopping Center in Midlothian and another about two hours west of Richmond in Lynchburg.

CEO Rex Smith said the move to the Wegman’s-anchored Stonehenge Village calls for a new building to be constructed, similar to the bank’s investment at West Broad Marketplace, a western Henrico shopping center also anchored by the New York-based grocer.

As it does in Short Pump, Essex will lease the land for the Midlothian branch and build and own the building itself. It will be similar in size to the Short Pump branch – around 5,000 square feet, 3,000 of which the bank will sublease to an outside tenant. It has the same setup at West Broad Marketplace, where it leased the extra space to Conte’s Bikes.

The bank has yet to choose a general contractor for project, Smith said. It used KBS to build the West Broad Marketplace location.

Smith said the bank has been successful in Short Pump, with $40 million in deposits gathered there since the branch opened in May.

For its second foray into Lynchburg, Essex is again taking over a former BB&T branch, which the bank purchased last week, Smith said.

“It’s a nice building and it comes with a lot of stuff ready to go,” Smith said, adding that it should be open next month, pending regulatory approval.

That site is about 6 miles north of Essex’s first Lynchburg branch on Timberlake Road, which opened in June.

“We’ve been very happy with Lynchburg,” Smith said. “The Timberlake branch has $13 million in deposits already.”

Smith, a Lynchburg native, said the bank has more market share to capture there.

“I think we’re filling a little gap. Some of the bigger banks have pulled out of southwestern Virginia in general,” he said.

“We probably need at least one more, maybe two,” in Lynchburg, he said. “Probably something that serves closer to the downtown area and something closer to Liberty University.”

Smith said the cost to open the new spot in Lynchburg will be less than $1 million. Building from scratch in Stonehenge will be a little more than $1 million.

Essex, which as of Sept. 30 stood at $1.3 billion in total assets, has 25 offices. Four of those opened over the course of 2016 and 2017, including one in Cumberland, Virginia, earlier this year.

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