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February 19, 2024 Focus: Banking & Finance

West Hartford becomes breeding ground for bank expansions

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Westfield Bank’s West Hartford Center branch at 977 Farmington Ave.

Many banks have made headlines in recent years by trimming their branch footprints as more customers use digital services.

But that hasn’t stopped some banks from expanding in one particular Connecticut town: West Hartford.

The wealthy suburb of about 64,000 residents has become a go-to location for banks with expansion plans in Connecticut. Lenders have been particularly fond of West Hartford Center, the town’s popular downtown area with office space, restaurants and small shops

As of June 30, 2023, West Hartford was home to 13 banks and 23 branches with nearly $5 billion in deposits, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data.

A decade earlier, in 2013, there were 11 banks in West Hartford with only $2.1 billion in deposits, FDIC data shows.

Westfield Bank CEO Jim Hagan considers his bank’s West Hartford Center location, opened in 2020 at 977 Farmington Ave., “much more than a branch location. We consider that our hub for Connecticut, that large space where we could really plant that flag.”

Massachusetts-based PeoplesBank’s West Hartford Center branch, at 102 LaSalle Road, was originally a Rockville Bank location that new owner People’s United Bank decided to close. People’s United has since been acquired by New York-based M&T Bank, which currently has two West Hartford branches.

“It was a good first step, and it was a nice, easy opportunity to take over some previous banking space and get into a good banking market,” said PeoplesBank President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Canina. “We had a lot of commercial customers that bank down in that area. So, they were asking us for a storefront presence.”

Meanwhile, New York-based NBT Bank a few years ago sited its regional office in West Hartford Center, at 433 South Main St., and is now investing in a separate location for a retail branch, having outgrown the original space.

“It’s a great, vibrant, strong community,” said Connecticut Regional President and West Hartford resident Andreas Kapetanopoulos. “It has a great chamber. There is also a lot of traffic that comes through. Geographically, it is just located well.”

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