Community bank expands operations
When Old Town Bank opened in 2007, its founders already had plans for building a dream headquarters, but the grand plans had to be put on hold until the locally owned bank got on its feet and the recession ended.
Now, five years later almost to the day, spectators gathered to watch as a line of bank officials and area dignitaries, wielding gold shovels, moved the first chunks of dirt where the new Old Town Bank headquarters will sit on South Main Street in Waynesville.
“That is the property we always planned to build on, we just didn’t think it would take that long,” said Charles Umberger, president and CEO of Old Town Bank. “We are very pleased” to get started.
Umberger added that the bank has seen four consecutive profitable quarters, and if all goes well in the next few days, that will become five consecutive quarters.
For the last several years, the Haywood County-based bank has operated out of a temporary building at 2045 South Main Street. The new building will sit at the same location but closer to the street front.
“We are very excited to be building on South Main,” Umberger said.
The new 9,000-square-foot building will be two stories, cost about $3 million and take about a year to build. The larger space will allow for the bank’s 16 employees to work under one roof with enough area for possible new employees in the future.
“We think we’ve designed a real good building,” Umberger said.
Throughout the construction, Old Town Bank will remain open. And, once the new building opens, the bank will continue to offer the same services to its customers, with the addition of safety deposit boxes.
“We hope our new building will provide more convenience for you and more services for our customers,” said Neal Ensley, president of Old Town Bank’s Board of Directors, at the groundbreaking.
Umberger then pointed directly across the street to PetSmart, Belk and Michaels — all of which are opening stores near the Super Walmart — and joked that the community bank was the impetus for their arrival on South Main Street.
“They clamored to be across from us,” he quipped.
When Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown spoke, he also mentioned the national chains moving to Main Street, saying he is happy to see them but they can’t compare to seeing a local business on that stretch of road.
“What I see here, though, makes me the proudest,” Brown said. “Thank you (customers) for coming and putting your money where your heart is.”