Scranton-based Peoples Security Bank and Trust is expanding farther into the Greater Lehigh Valley with its $3.5 million purchase of an office building in Bethlehem Township that it will convert to a retail branch and operations center.
When it opens its new location on Emrick Boulevard in the fall, it will be the bank’s second branch in the Valley. In 2014, it opened a branch at the corner of City Line Road and Airport Road in Bethlehem. Peoples Security is a community bank with 26 branches, including locations in East Stroudsburg and Mount Pocono in Monroe County.
“This is the bank’s biggest strategic investment in many years,” said Neal Koplin, Lehigh Valley region president and executive vice president of Peoples Security Bank and Trust. “We are looking to continue to expand in the Lehigh Valley. We will be looking for additional locations that make sense and that fit well with our footprint.”
The bank’s core footprint is Lackawanna, Wyoming and Susquehanna counties, he said.
The bank also recently opened a loan production office in King of Prussia, he added.
Cindy Feinberg, principal of Feinberg Real Estate Advisors of South Whitehall Township, represented People’s Security, which bought the property, according to a news release. Ron Eichenberg, managing director of commercial sales of The Frederick Group of South Whitehall Township, represented the seller, Shaleen LLC.
Peoples Security plans to develop the 25,000-square-foot-office building as a regional center for retail and business banking and is looking to occupy the first floor of the property by November, Feinberg said.
“They are going to be doing major renovations for their use,” Feinberg said. “They will be occupying the first floor. It’s a great location; it complements the Airport Road location very nicely.”
Having represented Peoples Security for the company’s purchase of the Airport Road location, Feinberg said the bank outgrew that site very quickly and she has found additional office space for the bank to occupy on Postal Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, which has some space for offices and conference rooms.
Peoples Security will consolidate employees from its Airport Road and Postal Road locations and add them to the new site on Emrick Boulevard, while keeping its Airport Road site open, Koplin said. Once employees are moved, the Postal Road location would be closed, he added.
In the Lehigh Valley, the bank has about 15 employees and could have close to 20 at the Emrick Boulevard site once it opens, since the bank is planning to hire, he said. Peoples Security will add wealth management services to that site, as well.
The site at 2151 Emrick Blvd. in Bethlehem Township formerly had The Provident Bank as a tenant, which since moved. Another tenant, Easton Hospital, will move to make way for Peoples Security, Feinberg said. Lehigh Valley Health Network, a second tenant, leases space in the second floor.
Peoples Security is in ongoing negotiations with LVHN, Koplin said.
While Peoples Security will occupy the entire first floor, office space is available for lease on the second floor, Feinberg said.
Potential tenants could include offices for doctors, attorneys and related firms, Koplin said.
“It allows us to expand. We will be changing the front look of the building; we will be adding two points of access,” Koplin said.
The architect for the project is joseph/rominski/architecture, headquartered in Scranton. Then bank has not selected a construction firm.
The building is near St. Luke’s Health Network’s Anderson Campus and the Madison Farms development near the intersection of Route 33 and Freemansburg Avenue, an area that has shown considerable commercial, retail and residential growth over the past couple of years.
Koplin said the bank likes the area and chose the site for its access to highways and the local neighborhood and amount of development that’s occurring. Also, with a location between the cities of Bethlehem and Easton, the bank can tap into those markets.