NC bank moves only local branch to Mt. Pleasant

Charlotte-based Park Sterling Bank has relocted its only Charleston-area branch to 741 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. in Mount Pleasant (above).

Park Sterling Bank has moved its only local branch, pulling up stakes in the Charleston tourist district for the fast-growing Mount Pleasant suburbs.

The Charlotte-based lender said it opened for business this week across the harbor at 741 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. It closed its brnach at 140 East Bay St. in downtown Charleston last week.

Bank officials told The Post and Courier earlier this year that the peninsula location, just north of Broad Street, was inconvenient for most customers, namely because of the tourist traffic in that area of the city and the parking challenges.

Its new home is a 10,000-square-foot, three-story office building on the U.S. Highway 17 frontage road near Shelmore Boulevard. It previously was occupied by MassMutual Financial Group.

“This larger, strategically well-located office will allow us to expand our service offering to the greater Charleston area,” Park Sterling CEO Jim Cherry said in a written statement. “Increasing our presence in this significant, growing market is an important part of our commitment to building a strong regional community bank franchise in the Carolinas and Virginia that is big enough to help customers achieve their financial aspirations and small enough to care that they do.”

Park Sterling was one of the first out-of-town banks to expand into the Charleston market after the last recession. The lender was launched in the Queen City about a decade ago after raising nearly $200 million. The organizers then recruited the current senior management, largely bankers like Cherry who came up through the ranks at the former Wachovia Corp.

When Park Sterling decided to set up shop on East Bay in early 2011 under industry veteran Emory Ware, it had just three branches. Its franchise has since swelled to 57 offices in four states, including about 20 in South Carolina in the Upstate and Piedmont region. Park Sterling picked up those branches through its buyouts of Citizens South Bank of Gastonia, N.C., and Greenwood-based CapitalBank. This year, it beefed up its small presence in the Richmond, Va., area by purchasing a lender with eight locations.

The bank is looking to its new East Cooper home to help it attract more customers and deposits, partly by offering more services, better access and ample free parking. Park Sterling’s smaller downtown office had focused mostly on commercial lending.

Ware, the bank’s market president, said in a statement that local households and small businesses are “a key focus.”

“Charleston is a true growth market for Park Sterling,” he said.

The bank is planning a series of grand opening activities for the new branch during the week of May 9.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572.