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Citizens Bank updating branches amid two moves

Citizens Bank's branches are changing with the times.

And time is almost up for its branch at the Liberty Building. Citizens plans to relocate that branch to 6 Fountain Plaza, with a scheduled opening date of Oct. 9.

The Liberty Building location debuted as a Rochester Community Savings Bank's flagship Buffalo branch in 1992. Charter One bought RCSB in 1997, and then Citizens acquired Charter One in 2004.

Given how much has changed in the past couple of decades with the way people bank, Citizens now has far more space than it needs at that location, said Lisa McGraw, the bank's retail director for New York State.

Its new branch at Fountain Plaza will have more technology in a smaller setting, she said. "I think it's more of a right-sizing [of office space], and I think when customers go in, they'll feel more comfortable."

While Citizens has maintained the size of its branch network in Western New York – currently 41 locations – the Rhode Island-based bank has refreshed branches or moved them to new locations when the timing is right. Its new-look format includes "advice centers," with space for customers to talk to employees about retirement or a mortgage, even if those same customers handle other routine transactions digitally.

In the Town of Tonawanda, Citizens is moving a branch about two-tenths of a mile, into a former Manhattan Bagel on Delaware Avenue. The scheduled opening date is Nov. 6. McGraw said the new location will be more convenient for customers, including a drive-up ATM that is not available to them at the Sheridan Drive location the bank will exit.

Many of Citizens' area branches are inside Tops stores. Citizens has similar arrangements with supermarket chains in other markets where it operates. McGraw said customers like that format because of the branches' weekend hours and accessibility while they are out shopping.

Citizens ranked an estimated fifth in deposit market share in the Buffalo Niagara region, based on last year's number, following Key's deal for First Niagara, and Northwest's acquisition of 18 First Niagara branches. New market share figures from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are due to be released in late September.



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