First Community Bank, historically anchored in the Lexington community, is making a bold move to downtown Columbia’s Main Street, bank officials told The State Tuesday. The bank plans to open new offices at the corner of Lady and Main streets early next year.
The move expands the growing local bank’s footprint into the heart of the Capital City and bolsters Main Street’s rising profile as a financial district. The news comes on the heels of a small parade of other banks establishing a presence in the area.
“The downtown area will be a great addition to the First Community family,” said Mike Crapps, bank president and CEO. “It’s experiencing tremendous growth, and the timing was right to bring our unique style of banking to the businesses and residents that call Main Street home.”
Established less than 20 years ago in offices in Lexington and Forest Acres, First Community closed a $1.1 million deal late Tuesday on property at the corner of Main and Lady streets. First Community Bank and its financial planning partner, First Community Financial Consultants, will occupy the first two floors of the four-story, 20,000-square-foot location at 1213 Lady St., separated by a small, open park from Main Street.
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The bank said it will invest an additional $1 million-plus in improvements for the location, continuing to lease the upper two floors of the structure to its current tenants.
First Community Financial Consultants, the bank’s financial planning and investment advisory arm, will move to the second floor of the Main Street location from its existing offices on Lincoln Street.
The parade of banks that have jockeyed to establish presence in the redeveloping Main Street area dates back nearly a decade but has intensified in recent months:
• First Citizens started planning in 2004 a 177,000-square-foot, $40 million banking tower that opened two years later at the corner of Main and Lady streets.
• NBSC, which already had a presence on Main Street, added to the fire when it moved into the new Main & Gervais tower in 2010.
• CertusBank, headquartered in Greenville, is renovating the former NBSC high-rise at Main and Lady streets.
• AmerisBank plans to move its South Carolina headquarters to a 15,000-square-foot building at 1333 Main St.
• BB&T is relocating from Assembly Street to Main Street in the Capitol Center where renovations currently are under way.
• AgFirst Farm Credit, one of the largest banks in South Carolina in terms of assets, recently purchased the Bank of America building on Main Street and has begun renovations there with plans to move in this fall.
“I think banks in the past few years have really embraced the fact that (Columbia’s) Main Street is South Carolina’s Main Street,” said Matt Kennell, Center City Partnership president and CEO in Columbia.
For First Community, being in the central business district was “the right next step,” Crapps said.
The bank, which is now the largest community bank in the Midlands in terms of positive market share, is poised for growth. It has grown to 11 branches from the original two, Crapps said, and recently moved to acquire the $160 million-asset Savannah River Banking Co. in Aiken and Augusta.
Being in the middle of the emerging banking center was the right place at the right time for the financial institution, he said.
“We’ve seen a lot of new energy in the Main Street area,” Crapps said. “I think we’ve hit that tipping point now with Main Street and with the central business district where there’s just a lot of momentum and excitement there.
“And for us, we think that gives a lot of opportunity for us as a community bank to be in the middle of that.”