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11 Area Offices to Be Closed in Bank Merger : Finance: Founders National is buying two of the branches scheduled to be shut in March and April in the B of A-Security Pacific deal.

February 07, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY and ELSTON CARR | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Seven Security Pacific branches and four Bank of America branches will be closed in South and Central Los Angeles as a result of the merger of the two financial institutions.

The closures, announced Jan. 28, have left some residents worried about having fewer options in an area already strapped for banking services. Before the closures, a city survey found that check-cashing outlets outnumbered banks 7-to-1 in a 40-square mile area of South-Central.

"I don't like the idea that they are closing this bank because this is the one I use all the time," said Sara Santana, a customer at the Security Pacific branch at 501 E. Florence Ave. "They don't care about these areas. They are more concerned about areas like the Westside and all that."

Liquor store owner Windell Whitfield, a 17-year customer of the branch, said the closure will create more congestion at a nearby B of A office. "The B of A is crowded now, and it's going to be worse because all the people from here are going to go there," he said.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday February 14, 1993 Home Edition City Times Page 4 Zones Desk 2 inches; 41 words Type of Material: Correction
Bank closures--A Feb. 7 story on bank closures in Central Los Angeles incorrectly identified two bank branches to be purchased by Founders National Bank. Founders will acquire Security Pacific Bank branches near the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall and at Western Avenue and 43rd Street.

B of A spokesman Charlie Coleman said that although the decisions to close Security Pacific branches were based on a number of factors, the chief one was geography. "In more than two-thirds of the cases in the state, the No. 1 reasons for closure were proximity to other branches, and building size," said Coleman. "These are strictly real estate decisions."

The Security Pacific branches scheduled to close are at 18th Street and Western Avenue; 6th and Flower streets; the University Village shopping center on Jefferson Boulevard near USC; 977 N. Broadway in Chinatown; 43rd Street and Western; 4143 Crenshaw Blvd. near the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza mall; and at 501 E. Florence Ave.

B of A will close offices at 7th and Alameda streets; the Transamerica Center branch at 1155 S. Hill St.; the Civic Center branch at 112 S. Main St.; and the branch at Wilshire Boulevard and Western.

Some of the slack will be taken up by Founders National Bank, which is buying two of the branches slated for closure. Founders will purchase the B of A branches near Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and at Western Avenue and 43rd Street.

Founders National Bank President Carlton Jenkins said the acquisition of the two sites, the first by Founders since the black-owned bank opened in 1991, is a significant step. The purchase of the Baldwin Hills branch will include deposits totaling $32 million and loans and other assets of $3 million. An additional equity investment by B of A, part of the branch sale package, will also boost Founders' capital, Jenkins said.

"We want to increase our presence in the community, and this will allow us to do that," said Jenkins. "Where we can, we want to be that option everyone wants."

But, added Jenkins, his bank's success will depend on increased community support. "If people had been supporting black banks all along, they wouldn't be worrying about B of A right now," he said.

The closures, scheduled for March and April, will mean employees of those branches will be temporarily transferred to other B of A and Security Pacific branches. After 60 days, B of A will assess customer volume and adjust staffing, said spokeswoman Julie Jasper. Accounts will be moved to designated branches, and customers have been sent letters.

At the Founders-purchased branches, accounts at the Baldwin Hills office will be transferred to the new owner. Founders is purchasing only the building at Western Avenue and 43rd Street, not the accounts.

Despite the consolidations, Coleman said B of A will operate 15 branches in South-Central, more than any other national bank.

But Leticia Lumbreras said the needs of South Los Angeles residents are not being considered. "When I come to Security Pacific, I always see a lot of people," she said. "I don't know why it's closing. There's a great need to have this bank here."

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