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You won’t be able to cash a check at the Williamsburgh Savings Bank anymore, but maybe you can live there.
The iconic four-story landmark, built in 1875 and home to HSBC since 1996, is on the market, its broker, Massey Knakal, announced.
It won’t change all that much, since both its interior and exterior of the Classic Revival building located on Broadway and Driggs Avenue have been landmarked by the city.
The bank has continuously served the neighborhood’s financial needs, dating back to the early German immigrants to steak lovers withdrawing a few Grants for a meal at Peter Luger. It was the longtime regional headquarters of Republic New York Bank, until HSBC bought it 14 years ago.
Now the bank is selling the building and moving to a new, two-story branch on Bedford Avenue and N. Third Street to better reflect the community’s banking needs. HSBC Regional President Ashley Parker called the building “wonderful” and “massive,” but said that the historic site is inconsistent with the needs of the bank’s clients.
“Perhaps [this building] is not what modern banking is about today,” said Parker. “As banking has moved on, and the needs of our clients to go into branches have moved on. We’re looking to improve experience and service for our clients.”
Parker would not reveal the asking price for the building, which has the old-style “h” in its geographic name.
Prospective buyers will face strict limitations for what can be built on the Williamsburgh Bank site, particularly the main banquet hall and the vault on the inside of the building, which may rule out interest from some condominium developers.
But like its sister building on Hanson Place in Fort Greene, which was also once an HSBC Branch, condos can be developed in the upper part of the building or along the sides, subject to landmark review, and the banquet hall could be rented for special events.
Community Board 1 member Ward Dennis noted that the parking lot portion behind the bank could be developed into housing or the whole building could be bought by religious organization, similar to the nearby Williamsburg Trust Company, which is now a Greek Orthodox church.
“It was a bank, built around turn of the century, and converted to a church decades ago,” said Dennis. “You have precedent for building banks into churches in this neighborhood.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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