http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2012/03/30/opus-bank-drops-bid-for-downtown-pleasanton-location


Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 30, 2012

Opus Bank drops bid for downtown Pleasanton location

Move comes as City Council takes up bank restriction ordinance

by Jeb Bing

Opus Bank representatives said this week that they are no longer pursuing a lease for the Past Time Pool building on Main Street in Pleasanton, ending for the time being concerns that an eighth bank would open in the downtown business district.

The Pleasanton Downtown Association wants the city to restrict the number of downtown banks so that more retailers can take the space, including seven corner locations that banks now hold.

The Planning Commission recently voted 4-0 on an ordinance that would require new banks to submit to a timely and costly review process that, in the end, would still allow the commission to reject their applications.

The City Council was poised to approve the ordinance two weeks ago until Councilman Jerry Thorne asked for more time to study the proposal. As a result, action on the ordinance was put off until next Tuesday's council meeting. At the time, some indicated that there was a rush to have the ordinance in place before Opus closed its deal on the Past Time Pool building, which is located at 511 Main St.

But Jeff Leonard, senior vice president of Irvine-based Opus Bank, said bank officers have decided "not to pursue a new banking office at the 511 Main St. location."

"At the time we were shown that location by our local broker, as well as a couple of other locations in Pleasanton, we were looking at leasing, not purchasing," Leonard said. "We prefer to lease vs. purchase and all of the seven new banking offices that we have opened in the past 12 months, and all of those currently under construction, are leased properties."

Whether the council will still consider the new ordinance Tuesday has yet to be decided. The PDA's concern is still there, that banks don't attract shoppers. Bank hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and often on Saturday mornings are much shorter than those of retail shops and restaurants. The PDA wants more retailers and restaurants downtown, and fewer banks and services businesses.

The ordinance amendment under consideration, although aimed at the Opus application, would essentially allow the city to make an informed decision about the placement of banks, not ban them outright.

The change would not prohibit banks downtown but simply allows some evaluation so that shopping, dining and entertainment-related uses such as restaurants and retail are not permanently eliminated from the downtown, explained City Manager Nelson Fialho.

"Banks are vitally important, but the exact location is also a relevant consideration," he added. "The change would provide time for that type of deliberation."

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