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January 24, 2014

Bank to clear space for Oneonta branch

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Work has begun to raze two buildings on lower Main Street to make way for a branch of the Bank of Cooperstown.

The branch is to open mid-year with three employees, bank officials said this week.

Demolition of 34 Main St. may start late next week, Scott D. White, Bank of Cooperstown president said, and razing the building at 36 Main St. will follow. Construction may begin in late February, he said, but progress depends on the weather.

White estimated construction costs at about $1 million. The purchase of the two properties was finalized with a closing Monday, he said, and the project is underway.

“It is very exciting,” he said Thursday. 

The Bank in Cooperstown at  73 Chestnut St. in the village has six employees, White said, and the bank will add three positions to staff the Oneonta branch, with hopes of increasing jobs in response to business. 

“We’re eager to open the branch and continue to build additional new relationships in the Oneonta market,” White said. “We offer high-quality personalized customer service, local decision-making and valuable bank products.”

In November, the Oneonta Planning Commission approved Bank of Cooperstown’s site plan, contingent upon the Otsego County Planning Department, state Department of Transportation and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which have signed off, city officials said. The applicant was required to submit a short Environmental Quality Review Act report.

Demolition permits have been issued for razing buildings at 34 and 36 Main St., according to Robert Chiappisi, city code enforcement officer.

Previously, buildings on the properties provided residential and commercial units. The parcels are in a Gateway Mixed Use District, near the entrance of the city just off of exit 14 of Interstate 88, and close to Neahwa Park.

Peter Hattem was listed as the previous owner of 34 Main St., records show, and 36 Main Street Realty Inc. was owner of the other property.

The branch will be a one-story, 2,664 square-foot building and will have drive-through access to an automated teller machine, plus two drive-through lanes, according to the plans. The branch will have 14 parking spaces, plus one handicapped accessible space, an increase from 12 spaces previously.

Bank of Cooperstown specializes in services for small and mid-sized businesses, professional practices, agri-businesses, farms and wineries in addition to residential mortgage and retail lending, a media release said.

“Since our formation in 2007, we’ve been able to generate consistent growth in the Cooperstown-Oneonta market,” Mike Briggs, president and chief executive officer of USNY Bank, parent of Bank of Cooperstown, said in the release. The application for the Oneonta branch has been approved by the state Department of Financial Services and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., he said.

“We view this proposed new branch as a natural extension of our market area and a great way to better serve our existing bank customers,” Briggs said.

Bauer Financial, an independent firm that rates banks and credit unions, has awarded USNY Bank a superior “Five-Star” ranking for financial soundness, Briggs said, and SNL Financial in the past three years has ranked the bank among the 100 top-performing banks in the country with assets less than $500 million in assets.

USNY Bank is an SBA Preferred Lender and FSA Certified Lender, and White said that Bank of Cooperstown uses those programs.