Magazine article American Banker

Bank Places a $7 Million Bet on Hope

Magazine article American Banker

Bank Places a $7 Million Bet on Hope

Article excerpt

When First National Bank of Hope, Ark., began buying the buildings on its block 15 years ago, it just needed extra space. Now $129 million-asset bank hopes investing in that space will help revitalize a fading downtown.

A new commercial district has sprung up near the highway since a Wal-Mart Supercenter store was built there two years ago. But First National built its new $7 million headquarters downtown instead.

The bank's president, Charles E. Sharpe Jr., is also a city councilman who is working on ways to revive the city. "A community bank needs to be downtown," he said. Building there was "a long-term economic decision."

ow a three-story headquarters has replaced the single-story buildings from the 1940s and '50s. A plaza in front and a community room inside will be available for community events. The community room has its own entrance, so residents can use it even when the bank is closed.

The project was not trouble-free. …

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