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Saturday, Mar 2, 2024

Banks Expanding A Little Bit in the Valley

The banking industry has been going through a roller coaster ride over the past year. Credit markets are still tight, some banks have closed, and the recession has forced others to aggressively shore up their balance sheets. Regardless, expansion plans continue to move forward for a few banks with operations in the greater San Fernando Valley area. Chase bank is opening two new branches in the Valley. The retail banking arm of J.P Morgan Chase & Co. will open the first in late June at 10930 Magnolia Blvd. in the NoHo Arts district in North Hollywood, and will open a second later this year in North Hills. Chase is opening a total of 20 new branches in California, four of which are in the greater Los Angeles area, said company spokesperson Gary Kishner. J.P Morgan Chase & Co. acquired Washington Mutual (WaMu) in September 2008, the latter of which had a total of 708 branches in California and 87 local branches. The company laid off 3,200 workers in California following the acquisition. But it also announced plans to spend $300 million to overhaul former WaMu locations and $75 million to open new branches. As of March 30, all WaMu branches were re-branded. Chase is still re-furbishing former WaMu buildings statewide. Kishner said Chase is focusing on small and large business banking, private banking and consumer banking. Wells Fargo merged with Wachovia Corp. at the end of 2008. Details of how the institutions will be integrated are still being worked out, said Well’s local spokesperson Pia Hahn. Wells Fargo has approximately 55 branches in the greater San Fernando Valley area, and Wachovia has a little more than a dozen. Regardless, Wells hosted the grand opening of a new branch at 8301 Topanga Canyon Blvd in Canoga Park. The branch was completed at the end of 2008 but the bank held off on the official unveiling until the end of May. Wells is also building a new branch at 12900 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. The 4,500 square foot building will be the first Wells branch in the San Fernando Valley to shoot for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Hahn said the bank is also remodeling and up-grading many of its facilities. Encino-based California United Bank is also moving forward with plans to open a new location in the South Bay. Company president and CEO, David Rainer, said the bank hopes to announce the whereabouts next quarter. The South Bay is an appealing market for California United Bank because there’s a high density of mid-size companies, said Rainer. The new operation will be the fifth for California United, which opened in 2005.

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