After a seven-year vacancy, a bank building on Airport Road across from the main entrance to the Lehigh Valley International Airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, has a new tenant.
Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co., based in Scranton, will be the new tenant, said Darren Betters, director of business and commercial services at Lehigh Valley International Airport.
The property is at 2355 City Line Road in Bethlehem at the corner of Airport Road.
Though officials from Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority, which owns the property, approved the lease terms in July, authority board members then did not know the identity of the tenant since the lease was not finalized.
Peoples Security is a community bank with 26 branches, including locations in East Stroudsburg and Mount Pocono in Monroe County. It has none in the Lehigh Valley, said Craig Best, president and CEO of Peoples Security.
“We like the overall market,” Best said. “It has great access to New York and New Jersey. We think the banking environment there is competitive, but with the amount of business activity there, we think it is a great market to get a start in. The demographics and growth on the business side are much stronger than we’ve seen.”
Marcellus Shale growth in the western part of the state has fueled a search for new markets for the bank, including the Lehigh Valley.
Wyoming and Susquehanna counties are lucrative markets for the Marcellus Shale industry and for Peoples Security, according to Best.
Susquehanna is the leading county for drilling in Pennsylvania while Wyoming is the eighth largest, Best said. Many landowners have benefited from royalties paid by gas companies to gain drilling permission. This money, in turn, is flowing into Peoples locations in these counties, he said.
“We’ve grown more than 11 percent each year in the two counties in the last five years,” Best said. “We are looking for markets we can lend that money out to.”
Neal Coplin, executive vice president of Peoples Security Bank & Trust Co. and Lehigh Valley region president, said he is establishing a team in all areas of banking.
The Airport Road location will start as a loan production office, with the plan to later offer retail services, according to Best.
Initially, the new location will focus on commercial loan production and is intended to be a business center that can manage investment needs for businesses and people, Coplin said.
“It gives an opportunity to work in a new region, one that has seen a lot of activity as of late, relative to development and economic growth,” he said.
Best said he plans to have the office open for business by the end of November.
“There are major renovations planned, so we think it could be a couple of months before they are operating,” Betters said.
Chris Baj, senior adviser for Sperry Van Ness Imperial Realty, the commercial real estate firm in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, represented the landlord. Cindy McDonnell Feinberg, principal of Feinberg Real Estate Advisors LLC in South Whitehall Township, represented the buyer.
Rent is $4,500 per month for a five-year lease with two five-year renewals.
“They will really improve the structure,” Baj said. “It will get an aesthetic facelift.”
The tenant would like to invest more than $200,000 in the property, which is worth about $800,000 to $900,000, Baj said. The building is 2,664 square feet and sits on two acres.
Improvements include better lighting, new roof, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and new parking lot.