New Jersey Bank Picks High-Profile Philadelphia Building for its First Pennsylvania Branch

OceanFirst Bank will open its first retail branch in Pennsylvania after signing a 10-year lease to occupy 2,000 square feet at 1500 Market St. in Center City.

The Toms River, New Jersey-based bank has been shopping for a high-profile Center City location to serve as its first branch for more than a year. Susanne Svizeny, the former Wells Fargo executive who joined parent company OceanFirst Financial Corp. (NASDAQ: OCFC) last year in the newly-created role of president of the Greater Philadelphia region, said the building is the perfect choice.

Nightingale Properties and Wafra Capital Partners, which jointly own the two-building Market Street complex formally called Centre Square, last year launched a $12 million renovation of the plaza, retail and lobby areas in an effort to give the 45-year-old office complex a refresh. The new OceanFirst branch will be on the Market Street side of what is informally known as the “Clothespin Building” because of the giant clothespin sculpture outside its main entrance. It is situated across from City Hall and right next to a main entrance to Suburban Station and the Market Street Line.

“It’s just such a great location with all of that foot traffic,” Svizeny said. “I know a lot of our customers will be happy to know they can do business with us in the city now. And it really shows our commitment to the city.”

Virtually every major bank operating in the region has a branch on Market Street between City Hall and 20th Street — the city’s main business corridor. In all, there are 11 different banks that operate 17 retail locations with a combined $16.5 billion in deposits in that five-block strip. Many of those are among the locations for each bank with the highest number of deposits. When factoring in the entire 19102 and 19103 zip codes that also include busy streets such as John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Chestnut Street and Walnut Street, there are 17 different banks with 51 branches that hold a combined $35 billion in deposits, or more than 18% of all deposits in the entire eight-county area.

OceanFirst will be the second bank branch at Centre Square. Santander Bank has one facing 15th Street.

Svizeny said the location will be what OceanFirst calls one of its “super branch” locations that serve as regional hubs. Despite the “super” moniker, they are not larger than a normal retail branch. The super branches do not have traditional teller lines, instead focusing on universal bankers serving both transactional and customers service needs in an open floor plan that features a large, U-shaped table near the entrance.

Svizeny said the plan is to have the branch open by May and the bank will employ SOSH Architects of Atlantic City for the work on the space that is now gutted. Since opening a loan production office at Two Logan Square late last year, Svizeny said OceanFirst has built up $1 billion in loans, largely commercial real estate and commercial and industrial. It was also an active player in the Paycheck Protection Program.

In addition to the loan production office at Two Logan, OceanFirst has locations in Doylestown to serve the eastern suburbs and Newtown Square to serve the western suburbs and Delaware. Svizeny said the bank would like to add another in the King of Prussia/Conshohocken area if it can find the right bankers.

Long based in Ocean County, OceanFirst entered South Jersey through four acquisitions between 2016 and 2019:

OceanFirst Chairman and CEO Christopher Maherhas said in recent years that moving into New York and Philadelphia were strategic priorities. It took care of New York earlier this year by acquiringCountry Bank Holding Co. of New York City as well as Two River Bancorp of Tinton Falls in Monmouth County. Sources have said OceanFirst has been talking to other banks about finding a strategic fit in southeastern Pennsylvania, where deals in prior years have thinned the options for companies as large as OceanFirst.

“I know that Chris is always talking to other CEOs, but that’s a question for him,” Svizeny said.

For now, though, OceanFirst will focus on its organic growth and its new Center City location.

The following is a list of all retail bank branches on Market Street between 15th and 20th streets, with deposits listed as of June 30, according to FDIC data:

    • Santander, 1500 Market, $47M
    • Citizens,1515 Market, $187M
    • Firstrust, 1515 Market, $439M
    • PNC, 1600 Market, $8B
    • Republic, 1601 Market, $415M
    • Truist, 1635 Market, $66M
    • M&T, 1650 Market, $56M
    • Wells Fargo, 1700 Market, $131M
    • Citizens, 1735 Market, $2.5B
    • Meridian, 1760 Market, $28M
    • PNC, 1801 Market, $196M
    • BofA, 1818 Market, $118M
    • Republic, 1818 Market, $137M
    • TD, 1900 Market, $716M
    • Santander, 2000 Market, $3.1B
    • Citizens, 2001 Market, $315M
    • Wells Fargo, 2005 Market, $75M

*Article Courtesy of Philadelphia Business Journal

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