Riverside’s last remaining national banking chain will be pulling out of the village this summer, part of a broader trend throughout the nation.

Bank of America will close its branch bank at 3300 Harlem Ave. on July 23, a company spokeswoman confirmed last week. PNC Bank, another national chain, shut down its downtown Riverside location in May 2018.

That leaves Riverside with just two banks, Riverside Bank and First American Bank, both of them located in the village’s downtown and both much more regionally focused chains with branches in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Diane Wagner, spokeswoman for Bank of America, said the Riverside branch’s closure was in response to changing consumer habits and the company’s need to align its branch network accordingly.

“Our goal is to provide the right network for our customers to do their banking, including financial centers and ATMs, online and mobile banking and bank by phone, so we’re constantly adapting our banking center network to fit customers’ changing needs, and provide the best opportunities for growth for our business,” Wagner said in an email. “That includes consolidating centers where we have overlap, and investing in new centers where there’s a high growth opportunity.”

Wagner said the receiving branch for the Riverside customers will be at the Bank of America location at 6400 Cermak Road in Berwyn. Other area locations include 6720 W. Roosevelt Road in Oak Park and 2337 S. Cicero Ave. in Cicero.

When the Riverside branch closes, the ATM located in the parking lot across the street will also be removed, though Bank of America is “looking for a different [ATM] location nearby to serve the community.”

Wagner said employees at the Riverside branch will be placed elsewhere with the company. Asked how many other area Bank of America branches are closing, Wagner said, “We don’t have a specific number of closures as we continually evaluate and adapt our network based on customer needs/preferences.”

Bank of America owns the property at 3300 Harlem Ave. as well as the parking lot across the street to the south. Between the two properties, the parcels comprise nearly 32,000 square feet of land zoned for commercial and mixed-use development.

Wagner said the bank’s property management firm was preparing to list the parcels for sale.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued a No Further Remediation letter for the roughly 13,000-square-foot parcel south of East Burlington Street where a parking lot and ATM machine are located.

According to the letter, the chemical benzene contaminates the soil in the vicinity of the ATM machine, but no further remediation is required at the site unless it is excavated.

Riverside Community Development Director Sonya Abt said she has not had any inquiries about Bank of America’s properties at Harlem and Burlington, but called the sites “excellent opportunities for redevelopment.”

“Hopefully, we can work with the bank on marketing to get the best development possible,” Abt said.

Bank of America has been closing branches since the economic downturn in 2008. According to a July 2018 article on CNN’s website, Bank of America had 1,720 fewer branches than it had in June 2008, a 28 percent drop.

The bank had closed more than 100 branches in the year prior to July 2018, according to CNN. 

Action sought at 363-69 E. Burlington St.

As the Bank of America property prepares to go on the market, the village would like to see some action at the property immediately west of the bank’s parking lot, at 363-69 E. Burlington St., a two-story, brick, 1920s-era, mixed-use building once slated for development as a brew pub but now vacant and deteriorating.

Giuseppe Zappani, who had bought and restored the Arcade Building in downtown Riverside, purchased the East Burlington Street property in November 2014. At the time, 363-69 E. Burlington St. had been in foreclosure for four years and was not habitable when Zappani bought it.

The building’s condition has worsened since. Despite plans to turn the lower level into a brew pub and rehab the upstairs apartments, work at the site has long since stalled and the building’s windows remain boarded up while the exterior shows signs of further erosion.

On March 27, the village’s building inspector, Jose Rivera, sent a letter to Zappani detailing nine property maintenance violations that needed to be addressed. Failure to do by May 10 would trigger further action by the village, according to the letter, which the Landmark obtained via a Freedom of Information request.

The letter requests that Zappani install proper windows and doors, paint exterior wood surfaces, tuck-point the entire building, make repairs to the roof and the limestone above a deteriorating second-floor window, install handrails on rear staircases and remove debris from the rear yard.

— Bob Uphues

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