Bank of America on Monday donated its closed bank branch in South Baltimore’s Brooklyn neighborhood to a community group that will redevelop it for a retail use and as the group’s headquarters.
The bank closed the branch in Brooklyn’s downtown area amid pandemic health restriction in March 2020 and decided not to reopen it.
The pandemic accelerated shifts in the way customers do business with their banks, with more people moving to digital channels, said Janet Currie, the bank’s Greater Maryland president, on Monday. When making decisions about closing locations, Currie said the bank considers the volume of client transactions, a branch’s activity and proximity to other branches, among other factors.
Community groups, concerned about the loss of banking services and about a vacancy at the South Hanover Street and Patapsco Avenue intersection, had asked the bank to donate the building in a way that served the community.
On Monday, bank and elected officials marked the bank’s transfer of the property to the Greater Baybrook Alliance, a nonprofit community development group that works to revitalize Brooklyn, Brooklyn Park and Curtis Bay. The alliance, working on behalf of a broader coalition of community groups, plans to renovate the building for its headquarters and seek a retail or service tenant to share the space, said Meredith Chaiken, the alliance’s executive director.
One goal is to “support an emerging small business. This way we’re using the building to generate jobs and create wealth in the neighborhood,” she said, noting that community members have expressed interest in a cafe or coffee shop. “We’re trying to figure out what tenant would be the right fit.”
Chaiken said the former bank redevelopment is key to the ongoing broader revitalization of Brooklyn and nearby neighborhoods. Other initiatives include developing a pedestrian and bike path through downtown Brooklyn, improving small business building facades and finding new uses for vacant buildings.