The last time a customer could walk into a Chase retail bank branch in Buffalo, the Sabres were just a few months removed from losing the Stanley Cup final
This was 1999. In the banking world, Marine Midland Bank had just switched its name to HSBC, and First Niagara Bank was still called Lockport Savings Bank.
Now, Chase is jumping back into retail banking here, with plans to open at least six local branches.
Chase – the retail and commercial banking business of JP Morgan Chase – plans to open four branches in the region by year’s end, and two more by mid 2023. It marks Chase’s return to retail banking here 23 years after M&T bought Chase Manhattan’s seven local branches in a broader deal.
The banking landscape has changed a lot since the late 1990s. M&T has solidified its lead in deposit market share. HSBC sold off its upstate branch network. KeyBank bought First Niagara. All the while, JPMorgan Chase has maintained commercial banking operations here.
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“There’s a lot of our prospects that we’ve talked to over the years that have said, ‘Where’s your closest branch?’ ” said Robert McArdle, head of Chase’s commercial bank for Buffalo. “That’s going to help us in our prospecting efforts, that we can now point to and say, ‘We’ve got four, soon to be six branches in these different locations.’ “
The first four locations consist of two branches in Amherst, plus one each in Depew and Buffalo. Each branch will be a renovation of an existing building. Chase will add about 50 jobs as it expands here.
Chase will add business banking operations, positioning the bank to serve clients with smaller revenues than the commercial bank does, McArdle said.
Chase is a banking powerhouse, with more than 4,800 branches in 48 states and the District of Columbia. But how does Chase intend to make retail banking inroads here, amid established competition and after decades out of the retail branch picture?
“We are hiring all our people that actually live in the areas where branches are,” said Monica Nation, head of the Buffalo branches. “You will not see anybody flying in from anywhere else in the country to run that area. Everyone is going to be local, and that is the difference.”
McArdle said the timing is right for Chase to re-establish branches in Buffalo.
“I think there’s been a renaissance in Buffalo over the last several years,” he said. “I think it just makes sense for us to be here. We’ve been in Rochester and Syracuse for a long time with branches, and Albany in the last couple of years, we’ve expanded there.”
Nation said she had constantly heard from her market leadership team about Buffalo, and called it her “pride and joy” to bring back Chases branches.
“My hope and wish is we don’t stop at six (branches),” Nation said. “We’re going to start with six and see what happens from there.”
The first four planned locations are: Eastview Plaza at Maple and Transit roads in Amherst; Broadway and Penora Street in Depew; Sheridan and Alberta drives in Amherst; and Amherst and Bridgeman streets in Buffalo. The addresses of the other two branches have not been announced.
In the property records, it looks like a routine transaction: Alden State Bank purchases an office building at 13200 Broadway in the the Village of Alden for $180,000.
But there’s much more to the deal. The bank bought what served as its main office from 1925 to 1963 and will turn it back into a branch. The most recent occupant, the Alden Advertiser, moved to a different location.
Steve Woodard, Alden State Bank’s president and CEO, said it was “humbling” for the bank to return to a building so deeply rooted in its history.
“Alden State Bank is the people who work here and the community we serve. It’s not a building per se, but the building is a physical reminder of the staying power of Alden State Bank and our commitment to the community,” Woodard said.
The bank plans to open the branch by the end of the year. Alden State Bank will relocate the branch that’s currently inside its headquarters next door.
Alden State Bank is still determining how much it will cost to turn 13200 Broadway back into a branch and whether the project is eligible for historic tax credits, Woodard said.
M&T’s newly released Environmental, Social and Governance report offers insights into the bank’s workforce.
M&T reported a voluntary employee turnover rate of 14% in 2021, up from 9% in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.
The turnover rate was also up from 11% in 2018 and 2019, but was consistent with the rate from 2015 to 2017.
M&T reported that 60% of its 17,491 employees were women, and 24% were people of color. The bank said 49% of its management were women and 15% were people of color.
Want to know more? Three stories to catch you up:
• Two more Chase branches planned as part of bank’s return to Buffalo Niagara
• M&T acquires 29 branches from Chase Manhattan
• ‘Sounds like that could be a girl:’ How Shelley Drake broke into the world of banking and made it to the top
Welcome to Buffalo Next. This newsletter from The Buffalo News will bring you the latest coverage on the changing Buffalo Niagara economy – from real estate to health care to startups. Read more at BuffaloNext.com.
Catch up on news tied to Buffalo Niagara’s economy:
Roswell Park is planning to rehab a historic 1,300-square-foot house at 907 Michigan Ave., while constructing a significant modern addition to the south that will more than double its size.
In the largest deal in the firm’s nine-year history, Buffalo-based private equity firm Lorraine Capital acquired ICM Controls, a North Syracuse manufacturer of electronic controls.
Jericho Road Community Health Center has purchased a former assisted-living facility in Buffalo for $2.05 million, with plans to renovate the structure and use it to assist asylum seekers.
Niagara University received its largest gift in the university’s 166-year history as Jeff and Mary Helen Holzschuh gave their alma mater $10 million, earning their name on its business school.
Ellicott Development Co. is planning a mixed-use project of some type at a former KeyBank branch on the Elmwood Avenue property it recently purchased.
Buffalo-based golf ball company OnCore Golf Technology is once again caught up in the controversy started by a marketing stunt at last year’s Masters tournament.
Gary Quenneville is retiring from KeyBank on June 1, after helping oversee its recent growth as a top local executive, which included the bank’s purchase of First Niagara Bank in 2016.
Frontier Group of Companies is wrapping up its $1.7 million transformation of the former Sheehan Residence for Retired Priests on Linwood Avenue into the new Residences@Linwood Manor, with 20 apartments.
As it pursues plans for a new “gateway” to downtown Buffalo, Legacy Development hopes to save two historic buildings on North Oak Street.
Buffalo city officials are hoping to turn the LaSalle Metro Rail station and surrounding land in University Heights into a new mixed-use project.
A consultant’s report is recommending layoffs and early retirement incentives to reduce the size of SUNY-ECC’s workforce, but it isn’t calling for the shutdown of its South Campus.
Moog Inc. has closed its Russian office and expects to lose a few million dollars in sales because of the war in Ukraine.
Douglas Jemal has bought the parking lot that once was the site of the Century Theatre, with the idea of turning it into apartments and office or retail space.
A new road into the heart of the former Bethlehem Steel complex was a key part of the effort to revive the site and attract new businesses. Now, officials are starting to plan for another new road.
Buffalo Next reporters Jonathan D. Epstein, Jon Harris, Natalie Brophy, Janet Gramza and Mike Petro contributed to this roundup.
Five reads from Buffalo Next:
1. BryLin will close its outpatient clinic in Amherst amid financial struggles, meaning it will no longer offer outpatient mental health programs for children, adolescents and adults as well as its outpatient addiction clinic for adolescents and adults.
2. Costco will open its first Western New York store in what is considered one of the busiest shopping districts in the Buffalo Niagara region – the Niagara Falls Boulevard retail corridor. So how will it fit?
3. Buffalo’s angel investors all hope to hit it big, but that’s not their primary motivation. They see investing in startups as their way of contributing to the region’s economic resurgence.
4. Energy road map calls for sweeping changes for WNY homeowners: A new statewide energy plan being debated would gradually phase out the use of natural gas in homes and buildings, in favor of greater reliance on electricity.
5. Buffalo Niagara housing prices are still soaring: When there’s competition among buyers, it pushes prices through the roof – and that’s exactly what is happening here.
The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Email tips to [email protected] or reach Deputy Business Editor David Robinson at 716-849-4435.
Email tips to [email protected].