New office to open Nov. 7 at Crooked Run Plaza
By Joe Beck -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- BB&T will close its downtown branch and relocate the workforce to a new building in the Crooked Run Plaza shopping center, bank officials said Wednesday.
The bank's decision to close its office at 102 E. Main St. on Nov. 4 and reopen at a new site on Nov. 7 leaves downtown with a major vacancy to fill.
The closing of the downtown branch will force the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce to vacate its offices that occupy a separate space in the same building as the bank, said Niki Foster, chamber president.
Foster said the chamber will close its existing office in January and was unsure of where it would relocate.
Foster declined to talk about the bank's decision, but said she hoped the building could be reopened as a major community asset before much time passes.
"It's a large building with a lot of opportunity. A lot of great things could be done with the building," she said.
Maria Lachapple, vice president of corporate communications at BB&T's headquarters in Winston-Salem, N.C., said the branch's workforce will remain intact and some new positions may be added at Crooked Run or the bank's other three locations in Front Royal after the relocation is complete.
She said BBT owns the Main Street building. Asked whether the building is for sale, she said, "I can't speculate on its future."
In a written statement, company officials cited "a better client experience, better egress to the building, more convenient parking and better access to our (drive through) ATMs" as the reasons for the relocation. The bank's drive-through ATM at 215 N. Royal Ave. next to the downtown building will remain open.
Ann Arena, owner of Gourmet Delights Gifts and Framing a few doors down from the bank on Main Street, criticized the bank's decision.
"They're abandoning downtown to go out there with the whatever," Arena said, adding, "I guess they're thinking of their bottom line as usual."
BB&T currently employs 23 employees at its four branches in the community.
"Our commitment to the local community is unwavering," Lachapelle said. "The Front Royal community is very important to us."
Bank officials said the Crooked Run Plaza location was approved by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Virginia Financial Bureau in May.