Farmers National Bank is working on a deal to open a downtown branch at Realty Tower Apartments with a lease possibly finalized in “the coming weeks,” a company spokeswoman said.
The proposal came to light Tuesday with Realty’s owners receiving approval from the city’s Design Review Committee for $60,000 worth of exterior signs for a Farmers National Bank branch.
“This is a very positive step” needed to open the branch on Realty’s ground floor, said Amber B. Wallace, the bank’s senior vice president/director of marketing. “This is big. We needed this so we can move forward. [Tuesday] is a very positive and exciting day.”
Though the deal isn’t finalized, Wallace said negotiations are progressing.
Dominic Marchionda, who owns Realty with a subsidiary of Pan Brothers Associates of New York City, said the deal is “very close” to being done.
“Within 30 days, max,” he said.
Farmers is expected to open the downtown branch within six months, said Gregg Strollo, president and principal at Strollo Architects, the project’s architect.
In addition to the $60,000 in exterior improvements, $250,000 in interior work would be done to locate the bank on the ground floor of the 23-unit high-end apartment complex at 47 Central Federal St.
That ground floor space, about 1,200 to 1,300 square feet, was used last as a studio by WYTV, the local ABC television affiliate, about five years ago. The location was last used as a bank, an AmeriTrust branch, about 25 years ago, Strollo said.
Farmers plans to use a dormant electronic ticker on the exterior of the building, last used for news headlines, as a stock-market ticker, Strollo said.
Marchionda said he and his partners “aggressively pursued” Farmers to open a branch at the apartment building.
“It’s a complement to what’s going on downtown,” he said. “It’s another feather in downtown’s cap.” The bank and the building’s owners have spent the past six months working on this deal, Marchionda said.
“It is one of the premier spaces” downtown, he said. “Farmers is the perfect tenant for that space.”
The bank will be “good for downtown,” said Bill D’Avignon, chairman of the design review committee and the city’s Community Development Agency director.
Farmers would hire six people for the downtown branch, Strollo said.
“We’re excited by the renaissance of downtown,” Wallace added.
Farmers is looking at a “number of potential projects” for expansion this year, she said.
Founded in 1887, Farmers has 19 banking locations and two trust offices in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Stark counties with more than $1 billion in banking assets and $1 billion in trust assets.