Evans Bancorp was looking to open its first Niagara County branch for some time, but KeyCorp’s proposed deal for First Niagara Financial Group spurred its plans.
“The First Niagara-Key opportunity probably accelerated it by a year,” said Kevin C. Brady, vice president of marketing and public relations for Hamburg-based Evans.
Evans Bank hopes to open a new branch at 5688 South Transit Road in the Town of Lockport in May. The bank needs approval from the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Area banks including Evans are counting on the Key-First Niagara deal – assuming that regulators approve it – creating “market disruption,” with some customers switching to other banks.
Evans’ new-branch plan, along with an ad campaign playing off the merger, indicate that the jockeying is already underway. Key hopes to complete its deal for First Niagara in the third quarter.
Evans would join a cluster of banks in that segment of South Transit. First Niagara and M&T each have branches within a half-mile of Evans’ new location.
Banks haven’t added many new locations lately. Many have cut back their branch networks as more customer transactions move online, or are relocating branches into smaller spaces.
But Evans has been looking to fill certain geographical gaps in its branch network, including Lockport, Brady said. The branch will open in the same building where the bank’s Evans Agency insurance subsidiary relocated last year. The building was formerly a Key branch.
Once regulators approve the plan, Evans will have to do only minimal construction in order to add banking services to the Lockport location, Brady said. The branch won’t have a teller line but will add features such as an interactive ATM.
This would be Evans’ 14th branch in Western New York.