Unity Bank, based in Clinton, N.J., is looking to expand its services by opening a branch in Bethlehem Township and relocating its Phillipsburg, N.J.-area branch to a nearby spot in Greenwich Township, Warren County.
Its full service Bethlehem Township branch will be at 2920 Easton Ave. in the Easton Commons Shopping Center, which also includes a Giant supermarket and strip mall.
Jim Hughes, Unity Bank president and CEO, sees the moves as part of the bank’s efforts to expand into the Greater Lehigh Valley.
About a year ago, Unity Bank decided to expand into that market, Hughes said, noting the bank also has a branch in Forks Township.
“There is certainly more room for than just three branches in the Valley, but we are also growing in New Jersey,” Hughes said. “It’s all about the people. We think certainly, the loan officers employed by us have relationships throughout the Valley.”
He expects the bank will take a measured approach to increasing its network in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Unity Bank will occupy the site of the shuttered PNC Bank in Bethlehem Township.
“We thought we’d expand our franchise. We are looking for sites, we do like the concept of a drive-thru,” he said.
The site is a little bit larger than it would use for a branch, at about 2,700 square feet, Hughes said. It will be a loan production and retail branch and be the bank’s lending center for the Valley, he said.
He expects construction to be done in about three months, noting that it does not require much exterior work. The bank will put the construction project out to bid and plans to have the bank open in about four months, Hughes said. The estimated construction cost is about $200,000, he said.
The bank will rent the space, which is owned by a national real estate investment trust, he said.
All of Unity Bank’s new branches will have a modern look, he added.
The Phillipsburg area branch in Pohatcong Township had great visibility but access was very difficult, Hughes said.
“It was an old, tired facility, so we thought it was overpriced in terms of rent and maintenance,” Hughes said. “For about half the price, we are relocating across the street.”
The spot it will rent nearby is in another PNC branch that closed in a Greenwich Township strip mall that includes a ShopRite, Home Depot, restaurant and liquor store.
“This is going to open a lot sooner,” Hughes said. “There’s more opportunity to serve the residents behind the mall.”
He expects to move the bank out of its existing space and into the new one by the fourth quarter.