With its future campus under construction across town on Long Hill Road, Liberty Bank is close to selling the old post office building in downtown Middletown where much of its administrative staff works.
Liberty CFO Tom Pastorello said the bank is nearing a deal to sell the building at 291 Main St.
“We are inches away from a final contract,” Pastorello said. “We will be signing a contract very soon.”
Employees will move out of that location no later than March 2019, he said. He said he could not disclose the buyer until a contract is signed, but said he wanted the “right buyer” that would be a good fit in Middletown.
The sale of the old post office is just one piece of a planned move to the old Xerox and Weekly Reader campus at 245 Long Hill Road. Despite the consolidation into one large facility, Liberty Bank will retain a prominent location on Main Street — it has a branch at 315 Main St.
“We are 100 percent committed to Middletown. That was one of our primary directives when we considered the plan to expand,” Pastorello said. “It is our history, it was built in the late 1920s. We are known not only as the owner of that building but as the oldest bank in the state of Connecticut. The building represents us, and it’s going to continue to represent us.”
More than 100 employees will stay in the Main Street office that is, and will remain,Liberty Bank’s headquarters, he said. The visible location at the corner of Court and Main streets will be able to grow and offer new products in the future.
Liberty Bank bought the 23-acre property and its 85,000 square-foot office building for $3.5 million early in 2016. Its employees are scattered around Middletown, and with three acquisitions since 2010 — including the 2015 purchase of Naugatuck Valley Savings and Loan — Liberty needs more space, officials have said.
Liberty has more than 50 branches in Connecticut.
Pastorello said demolition work at the new Long Hill Road building should be done by Dec. 1. Site work, a rebuilding of the interior and exterior work are scheduled to finish in the fourth quarter of 2018, and employees will begin moving in then.
The company looked at several sites to consolidate, but none outside of Middletown, he said.
“It shows a major, dedicated commitment to their roots,” said Larry McHugh, president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. “They haven’t forgotten the spot where they started, and that is an unbelievable message.”
He said Liberty Bank is a great corporate citizen and contributes to local organizations and charity efforts. Their growth is good news for the local business sector, he said.
“All of us should be very excited about the purchase of the Weekly Reader building, and that it’s going to be occupied by Liberty Bank,” McHugh said. “You can’t underestimate the situation of having Liberty Bank headquartered in Middletown. It’s what we really need to continue our growth forward.”
Having the majority of the bank’s administrative and support staff in one place will allow the bank to save money and develop new services for customers, Pastorello said.
“We’ve needed space for several years, and this is the future of the organization,” Pastorello said. “We are going to see considerable efficiencies here at the bank, and that means long-term cost savings.”