Cross County Federal eyes Van Nest

A Queens-based bank that is over 100 years old is coming to the Bronx.

Cross County Federal Savings Bank, which has its headquarters in Middle Village, Queens, is planning to renovate a roughly 2,000-square-foot facility at 791 Morris Park Avenue, and officials are hoping to open a branch there by the end of the year.

The bank is a mutual savings bank that has eight branches in Queens and Brooklyn. The company was founded in 1888, and is focused on the day-to-day banking needs of individuals and small businesses.

“We are a small community bank and we are very much involved in the communities we have branches in. Each community is slightly different, but we tailor to those needs,” said Michael Lazar, executive vice president of the company. “The new location is fairly sizeable and we feel we can make it work for the community.”

The bank will be a full-service branch with two 24-hour ATMs and eight employees. Because of the land locked location there will not be a drive-through teller station.

Recently the company submitted its renovation plans to the city. Bank officials hope to hear back within two months so they can begin work on the gutted interior space as soon as possible.

“We’ll build from the ground up,” Lazar said. “We’re hoping to get the permits as soon as we can because once we get them, we can start.”

According to Lazar, the company has been looking to expand into the Bronx for several months. Officials decided to open the branch in Van Nest after noticing a lack of small banks in the area.

“We took a look around and felt that its an under-banked area,” Lazar said. “Especially in Van Nest, we felt we could provide some basic service for the residents there and we could help them continue to grow.”

Bobby Ruggiero, president of the Morris Park Alliance, said he is excited about a small business-oriented bank coming to the Van Nest community.

“It’s a double-sided, positive effect in that we haven’t had a bank in the community for about 28 years,” he said. “And it shows that the area is economically viable enough for these guys to want to open a branch here.”

The last bank in the neighborhood closed after Chase Manhattan Bank acquired Manufacturers Hanover Bank and Trust Company in 1991.

Although some residents are apprehensive about the bank opening, Ruggiero said the community’s attitude has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The way the banking atmosphere has changed, it’s all just getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “This bank is interested in the small mom-and-pop stores.

“They want to help the small merchants, and the businesses that we have here can really benefit.”

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