Posted Jun 29, 2017 at 4:48 PM
“We’ve been looking in the area in downtown for years,” said Patrick Murray, bank president and CEO.
The bank had a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday morning at the building, 72 North Water St., which also houses Carmine’s Italian Ristorante.
The branch is slated to open in the fall after interior renovations are completed. The new office will have a retail branch on the first floor, a loan office on the second floor and drive-thru Interactive Teller Machines. The drive-thru allows customers to press a button and talk to a bank teller, which could eventually be available 24 hours, Murray said.
In addition, the space is set to have a community room, a night deposit box for business customers and plenty of off-street parking.
Underneath a picture of Candleworks on a sign in the white tent in the parking lot read “The newest bank coming to downtown is 171 years old.”
The 1810 building is a former spermaceti candle factory from the whaling era. The building suffered a fire in the late 1960s and was set for demolition when the Waterfront Historic Area League and the Architectural Conservation Trust intervened. The building was restored and reopened in 1979 as office and commercial space.
According to Murray, 16 percent of the bank’s total deposits are in the Greater New Bedford area.
Michele Roberts, executive vice president and community relations officer, said the bank is invested in the city, too. The bank’s charitable fund has put almost $18 million back into the local community, $4 million of which into the Greater New Bedford area.
A check of $250,000 to WHALE was presented to Executive Director Teri Bernert. The money is an equity investment into the Co-Creative Center. The bank plans to increase the return on the investment and put it back into WHALE, Roberts said. The foundation purchased historical tax credits in the renovation of the Mariners’ Home and Seamen’s Bethel and is in the process of doing something similar with the Howland House.
“This is the commercial center of southeastern Massachusetts,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. He called the bank’s commitment to downtown “enormously significant” and noted banks are anchors to downtown.
The owner of Candleworks is New Bedford Inc. The architect for the project is studio2sustain inc. of New Bedford and the builder is A.P. Whitaker & Sons of West Bridgewater.
Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT.