Brooklyn Boro

Chase opens ‘new generation’ bank in Brooklyn

October 11, 2018 By Stephen Koepp From The Bridge
The bank has a playful constellation of lighting fixtures. Photos by Steve Koepp
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Walk into a traditional bank branch and the first thing you’re likely to see is a line of teller windows, plus the counter with the deposit slips and pens. Walk into the new Chase bank branch in Williamsburg, though, and you’ll encounter an “access bar,” which has both a digital dimension (a big-screen TV and cellphone-charging station) and a human touch (smiling staffers to answer your questions).

“This is not like a regular branch,” said manager Tamara Bulatovic, on a tour of the new office at 180 Bedford Ave., which opened Tuesday and will have an open house on Saturday. The branch is the first in Brooklyn of what a Chase spokesperson described as “a new generation of branches,” in keeping with a trend toward folksy informality in bank offices.

The bank’s interior layout and design could be described as post-industrial comfy. A lounge near the front entrance is furnished like a living room, with sofas, coffee tables and, at the moment, pumpkins. Floors are polished concrete and mosaic tile, with wood-block wall panels and a constellation of blown-glass light fixtures. “We want it to be very cozy, very relaxed, very client-friendly,” said Bulatovic.

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The new branch is the 78th in Brooklyn for JPMorgan Chase, which is not only the largest U.S. bank (assets: $2.6 trillion), but also the biggest in the borough, far ahead of its next two competitors, Capital One (29 branches) and TD Bank (28). The Bedford Avenue branch, which is equidistant from two existing Chase branches — one in Greenpoint and the other on Williamsburg’s south side — is in a new building constructed on the site of a former Salvation Army outpost.

While some Brooklynites may feel the borough has quite enough banks and chain stores, Bulatovic said Chase is responding to local demand for in-person banking, even in the era when so much banking is done online. “A lot of the customers have been asking for this, so we listened to the community,” said Bulatovic, who previously worked in the Greenpoint branch. Another new Chase branch is scheduled to open next year in Borough Park.

The bank is both kid- and dog-friendly, says the manager.

Chase may be characterized by giant scale, but its branch bankers want everyone to know that their focus is on the neighborhood. “We’re proud to be able to put a branch here. This is obviously quite a vibrant and dynamic community,” said William Berdini, Chase’s market director for northwest Brooklyn. “We really want to keep supporting its continued development.”

The new branch will create 15 new jobs, Berdini said, adding that the bank was careful to recruit new staff locally. “Half of the employees at this branch grew up in the neighborhood.” Bulatovic, for her part, is a native of Serbia who grew up in Queens, earned her MBA at Long Island University, and has previously worked for Investors Bank and Citibank.

Given Brooklyn’s growing prosperity, the Williamsburg branch will have two resident Private Client staffers, who focus on wealthy customers, and a financial advisor. “We’re here to make sure they’re financially stable and planning for their future as well. We’re here for the long haul,” said Bulatovic.

The branch will have a resident business-banking specialist, aiming to serve a range of businesses from mom-and-pop to mid-size companies. “Chase provided nearly $22 billion of new credit to small business throughout the country last year,” said Gregg Kleinbaum, managing director of the New York City region, in announcing the new opening. Among recent Brooklyn commitments, Chase offered the example of two loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), one for $852,000 to a dentist for a new office, and another for nearly $1.3 million for a physical therapist’s new facility.

“We’re here to help them grow, to help them with any financial need they may have,” said Bulatovic, pointing out that business customers are assigned relationship managers, so they can call on the same staffer over time. “We have very knowledgeable employees,” she added.

 

The bank’s open house will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sat., Oct. 13, with food catered from four local vendors, and special offers on hand for new business and individual accounts.

The Bridge is dedicated to reporting on business in Brooklyn. Its focus is on the breakthrough companies, entrepreneurs and trends that have made Brooklyn a worldwide brand and a growing economic center.

 


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