Carolina Bank holds ribbon cutting for new downtown location
Carolina Bank held a ribbon cutting for their new branch headquarters and retail branch in the heart of Florence. The newly renovated building, formally the Art Trail Gallery, serves as the company’s financial and administrative hub and houses a modern retail banking center, administrative offices, as well as broker, insurance, and mortgage offices. It was nearly two years in the making.
The $4.5 million renovation of the building marks a significant financial and personnel commitment to the Florence downtown area. Carolina Bank shifted its administrative and training staff, along with lending, information technology, and mortgage staff to the new Florence location.
A soft opening was held in December 2018 for the 19,200-square-foot building. It hosts the bank’s 15th branch location in addition to its new headquarters.
This is just one part of the 80-year-old South Carolina bank’s far-reaching growth plan. Other phases of the bank’s plan include reinvesting in and renovating existing branches while expanding the range of technological offerings and support for its customers.
“We are very pleased with the results,” said Vera Herbert, vice president and a fourth-generation member of the Beasley family, founders of the family-owned bank more than 80 years ago in Lamar. “It was a lot of work to get to this point.”
When Carolina Bank purchased the building it was only two stories and housed the Art Trail Gallery. Adding a third story to the two-story building is what took so long in the renovation process, Herbert said.
“We wanted to make the building look like the original building did in the early 1900s. A fire destroyed the third floor in the 1960s and it was never replaced so we wanted to replace it” Herbert said.
The first floor houses the new branch operations and the wealth management services. The second floor includes operations such as loan and deposit operations, as well as information technology. Located on the third floor are the executive offices and the audit department.
According to Herbert, “We wanted this new location to be convenient to our current customers and we hope to expand to new customers as well. We are also continuing to improve our current branches as well to keep that small bank feel.”
The bank has helped finance projects downtown and looks forward to being a part of the growth in the downtown district.
Bank President Rick Beasley said at the ribbon cutting that his grandfather had a vision in 1936 and opened a small bank in Lamar. His son opened one in Darlington and from there it has grown. And now they have moved their headquarters to Florence.
“This is just the start of what is going to happen in Florence,” Mayor Pro Tem Frank J. “Buddy” Brand II told Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, business leaders, bank personnel and friends gathered in front of the bank for the ribbon cutting. “Florence is on the move.”
He welcomed Carolina Bank to Florence’s downtown as part of the city’s growth.