Banking

First Bank opens first Charlotte location in SouthPark

Southern Pines-based First Bank is opening a new branch in SouthPark later this month, its first in the Charlotte city limits.
Southern Pines-based First Bank is opening a new branch in SouthPark later this month, its first in the Charlotte city limits. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

A Southern Pines-based community bank is opening a new branch in SouthPark later this month as part of its strategy to expand into larger metropolitan markets across North Carolina.

First Bank will open its Charlotte location on Aug. 17 in the Rotunda Building, marking its sixth location in the greater Charlotte area, but the first inside city limits.

“We as a bank made a strategic decision to come into all of the true urban markets,” said Adam Currie, First Bank’s Charlotte regional president. “We’re really excited about the growth of the bank and we want to be the premier community bank in Charlotte.”

Currie also said the bank is looking to expand further in the Charlotte area in the future.

First Bank is the latest entrant in Charlotte’s competitive banking market. It’s also the latest to establish its initial Charlotte branch in SouthPark. Last month, First Tennessee Bank said it plans to open its first retail branch in SouthPark’s Morrocroft Centre, and last year Cornelius-based Aquesta Bank entered Charlotte with the purchase of a branch in SouthPark from CertusBank.

The new location comes after First Bank’s holding company, First Bancorp, announced in June that it would be acquiring Greensboro-based Carolina Bank Holdings in cash and stock for $97.3 million. It expects the acquisition to close in late 2016 or early 2017.

The combined company will have $4.1 billion in assets, $3.0 billion in loans and $3.4 billion in deposits, according to a statement from First Bank.

First Bank has 87 total bank branches with 81 of the branches operating in North Carolina and six of the branches operating in South Carolina.

First Bancorp CEO Richard Moore was previously the state treasurer of North Carolina from 2001 to 2009, and ran for governor in 2008, but lost in the Democratic primary to Bev Perdue.

The bank’s move into Charlotte comes at a time when community banks across Charlotte and the country are consolidating, and the number of community banks headquartered in Charlotte has fallen.

The number of community banks in the U.S. has dropped from 10,329 in 1994 to 6,094 to 2014, according to a study by Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. While the number of large banks increased from 73 to 100 during around the same time period.

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