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Bank of America to close on Franklin Street location

One of Chapel Hill’s most central banks will soon close.

Bank of America, located at 137 E. Franklin St. — near R&R Grill and across the street from Sugarland Bakery — has announced that it will no longer operate from its downtown location beginning Sept. 28.

Nicole Nastacie, spokeswoman for the Franklin Street bank location, said that Bank of America often reorganizes the services it provides if it determines that customers are not satisfied.

An email forwarded to the Chapel Hill Town Council from Ken Pennoyer, the town’s business management director, said the bank plans to install storefront ATMs across the street from its current location.

Pennoyer wrote in an email to the council that the bank wants to close partly because it could not negotiate a smaller space in the building where it is currently located.

Nastacie said customers can still go to the two other Chapel Hill locations, at 104 E. Main St. or the University Mall location at 851 Willow Drive for the same consumer banking services offered at the Franklin Street location.

Because Bank of America only leases the space, Nastacie said the bank will not have any role in filling the space after it leaves.

The space is managed by Franklin Street Plaza Ltd.

Bobby Funk, assistant director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said he’s unsure what kind of impact the bank’s closing will have on nearby retailers.

Funk said the impact of the bank closing is hard to determine, because a bank’s customers are not necessarily the same as a restaurant’s or retailer’s.

“Their business reaches much further than just next door,” he said. “I think there will be plenty of effects, but it’s difficult to say what.”

Funk said he is also unsure what kind of business would take the place of Bank of America, because there were too many factors in the deal — usage costs, the location and the cost of converting the space for new uses, for example — for a clear answer.

But Funk said he does not believe there would be much trouble finding a new business to take the bank’s place.

“All of downtown is very desirable,” he said. “I think those other pieces play more into it than location.”

John Morris, president of Morris Commercial-Investment Real Estate, said the space has a variety of uses for retail, especially as street-front property.

He said he suspects the space that Bank of America occupies would be broken down into smaller units for sale.

Morris said larger spaces on Franklin Street, such as Bank of America’s site, often face problems when put on the market, because most property on Franklin Street is made up of smaller spaces.

“I think a bank’s critical for downtown,” Morris said. “So I think you’ll always see a bank downtown.”

He said he couldn’t think of any businesses that had occupied the space before Bank of America.

“I’ve been here since the mid-70s and it’s always been the bank,” he said.

“I think it was originally built primarily because of the bank,” Morris added.

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The property manager for 137 E. Franklin St., where the Bank of America is currently located, could not be reached for comment.

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