Bank of America to close downtown branch

The Downtown Mall will be Bank of America-less, but will have another steakhouse.  
Staff photo The Downtown Mall will be Bank of America-less, but will have another steakhouse. Staff photo

Bank of America is closing its location on the Downtown Mall February 17, branch customers learned by letter April 20. “What, we’re closing?” a teller there asked this morning when she heard a colleague inform a customer on the phone.

Built in 1916, the structure was originally Peoples National Bank and has housed Virginia National Bank, Sovran Bank and NationsBank before Bank of America became the latest occupant, according to Margaret O’Bryant at the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.

Hunter Craig’s East Main Investments LLC bought the building at 300 E. Main St. in 2008 for $6,975,000, according to city property records. Craig did not immediately return a call from C-VILLE, nor did his attorney, Steve Blaine.

“Banking has changed,” says Tim Hulbert, executive director of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce. “People are doing most or all of their transactions electronically and rarely go into a bank.” Bank of America still will have nine branches in the area. “From the bank’s perspective, it’s efficiency,” he says.

“We’re looking for ways to consolidate,” says Bank of America spokesman Matthew Daily. He points out that there’s another branch about a mile away on Long Street, and one about 2 miles away at Barracks Road.

And while the bank does not disclose how many employees it has, it will try to find them other opportunities nearby, says Daily.

The big question is what will happen to the building, which is more than 22,000 square feet, according to city property records, and its soaring, two-story lobby.

Back in 1916, lobbies were grander. Staff photo

“It’ll open up space downtown,” says Hulbert. “It’s a pretty dramatic space. I suspect some smart entrepreneur will see the opportunity and seize it.”

As for BofA customers wondering about where they’ll pick up cash downtown, a bank employee who was not authorized to speak to the press said the bank is looking for space for a couple of ATMs.

Updated 3:54pm with comments from Bank of America, and with corrected square footage numbers from city property records for 300 E. Main St.