Hoosac Bank, Lee Bank plan expansion into Pittsfield, Lenox
Two Berkshire County-based community banks are planning to expand their services, with one financial institution interested in Pittsfield and the other in Lenox.
Hoosac Bank of North Adams has applied to establish a branch in the MountainOne Financial Center in the William Stanley Business Park of the Berkshires. Hoosac Bank, which already operates an ATM at that site, is one of MountainOne Financial Group's several partners.
Lee Bank, meanwhile, plans to open a branch on Pittsfield-Lenox Road in Lenox.
Both banks have filed applications to establish their new branches with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Massachusetts Commission of Banks. They will need approval from both entities in order to expand.
Lee Bank expects to open its Lenox branch by the middle of this year, according to President David J. Bruce. Hoosac Bank hopes to open its new service by late spring, President Thomas Leavitt said.
Bruce said Lee Bank plans to open a full-service branch in Lenox. Leavitt said Hoosac's new outlet will contain most of the services customers expect to find in a branch office with the exception of handling coins or currency.
"Anyone from the community can come to MountainOne and open accounts," said Leavitt, who recently succeeded the retired Stephen Crowe as president and CEO of MountainOne. "They can conduct transactions as well by using bank instruments as well as checks.
"Essentially, it's sit-down teller service without utilizing any coin or currency in that office."
MountainOne opened its financial center at the Stanley Business Park last June. Besides an ATM, Leavitt said Hoosac Bank also provides retail services, commercial lending and mortgage banking there.
Hoosac Bank is also in the process of merging with another MountainOne partner, South Coastal Bank, with locations on the South Shore. Plans call for both financial institutions to operate under the same charter as Hoosac Bank. Leavitt said Hoosac Bank's increased presence in Pittsfield will help expand its services throughout Central Berkshire.
"I'm not talking about a physical expansion as much as reaching out into the market," he said. "We'll use it as a base."
Lee Bank expanded into Pittsfield last summer when it opened a branch on North Street. When that branch opened, Bruce said the bank started planning to open an additional branch somewhere between Pittsfield and Lee.
"When we expanded to Pittsfield, we knew that just going to Pittsfield was not the end of the line, so to speak," Bruce said. "In order to really increase the convenience of Lee Bank to current and future customers, that 10-mile or so gap between Pittsfield and Lee needed to be filled in."
The bank plans to establish its Lenox branch in the space currently occupied by Berkshire Lighting Outlet at 450 Pittsfield-Lenox Road. That spot is located within close proximity of the NBT Bank branch at the corner of Holmes Road and Pittsfield-Lenox Road, and the Berkshire Bank branch in the Centers at Lenox shopping plaza.
"What's typical in terms of branch locations is that they're located in highly visible, highly trafficked areas," Bruce said. "Sometimes it's pretty typical that they clump together. That tends to happen because banks want to be where their customers' travel routes are."
The Lenox branch will initially have four employees and include a full slate of banking products and services.
Bruce said Lee Bank has applied to the town of Lenox for a special permit for both a drive-up facility and site plan review.
To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
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