Purchases Spur Redevelopment Of Bank Branch Sites

by George Waldon  on Monday, Jul. 7, 2014 12:00 am  

Two competitors recently stepped into the Pulaski County banking market to replace Metropolitan National Bank and National Bank of Arkansas.

Malvern National Bank bought a 7,983-SF office at 1818 N. Taylor St. in the Heights area of Little Rock for $2 million. Jefferson Bancshares Inc., parent of Relyance Bank of Pine Bluff, purchased a 1,209-SF office at 11000 Financial Centre Parkway in west Little Rock for $1.2 million.

Both branches were sold by Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff. The properties represent two of 11 branches Simmons marked for sale after last year’s purchase of Metropolitan, which ballooned its Pulaski County branch count from nine to 30.

Malvern National is also working on a new branch near the Bass Pro Shops at the Gateway Town Center in Little Rock.

“We have not looked at anything beyond this,” said MNB President Mark Roberts. “In a perfect world, there very well could be another location out west, but we haven’t gotten that far yet. We are looking in Conway.”

Arkansas Federal Credit Union of Jacksonville is taking one surplus Conway location off Simmons’ hands, but there are still three available. Arvest Bank of Fayetteville retained two Conway branches after buying NBA last year.

Arvest has deals in the works to sell two abandoned branches in North Little Rock, a former Arvest office on McCain Boulevard and a former NBA office on Main Street — but not to other banks.

“We never sell any of our branches to another bank,” said John Womack, CEO of Arvest’s central Arkansas market. “Our philosophy is we want our competitors to experience the joy of developing a new branch from scratch.”

Arvest also intends to sell former NBA branches at 102 Country Club Parkway in Maumelle and at 9400 Highway 107 in Sherwood.

Even with the redevelopment of four NBA branches, Pulaski County has no shortage of banking locations, with 199 full-service branches operated by more than two dozen lenders.

Bear State Financial Inc., the parent company of First Federal Bank of Harrison, has its first full-service branch in Pulaski County thanks to the recent acquisition of First National Security Co.

FNSC was the parent company of First National Bank of Hot Springs, which has had a west Little Rock branch since 2008.



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