Sandwiched between a neighborhood pastry shop and half a dozen pubs and bodegas along Crosby Avenue, a small-business oriented community bank has opened its doors.
The Queens-based Alma Bank had its grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, September 22, at the new branch at 1705 Crosby Avenue.
The facility is a full-service bank, with two 24-hour ATMs, a drive-through teller, and a parking space in the back.
This is the eighth branch the bank has opened since the company began in 2008. It is the first Bronx location.
“A business and family-oriented bank is absolutely needed here,” Bronx Chamber of Commerce executive director, Lenny Caro, said. “It is another plus for the borough of the Bronx.”
Since starting the business two years ago, the bank has opened four locations in Queens and three in Brooklyn.
According to the company planning and development director, Renos Kourtides, the bank strives to satisfy the local needs of each community in which they have a branch.
“We are very active in lending. We do a lot with family-owned businesses. Seldom do we loan to large corporations,” he said.
“A lot of banks today don’t have the appetite for smaller loans. We like to concentrate on meeting the needs of multicultural neighborhoods like this.”
Kourtides said the company loaned about $250 million to businesses in the past year. He said starting the company after the country’s economic meltdown helped it avoid the debts and bad loans that brought down many other banks in the past few years.
The company began leasing the Crosby Avenue property several months ago, but had to completely renovate the facility, which was formerly a $99-cent store. The branch had a soft opening about a month ago to test the software and technology at the new location.
Everything went smoothly, Kourtides said.
“We are happy to be here,” he said. “We have a lot of customers already that came to us for their business.”
For Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, the bank is a good omen for Pelham Bay.
“It’s a wonderful addition to our neighborhood and you have really displayed your confidence in our community here,” he told Kourtides.
Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson was so impressed with the facility during the Wednesday grand opening that she asked bank representatives if they would consider opening a branch in Mount Vernon, an area she represents.
“I love banks,” she said. “The Bronx is growing and this is a sign of prosperity.”