AUBURN — Norway Savings Bank is moving in.
Bank and city officials plan to announce Thursday that Norway Savings has bought the first floor of the former Dunlap Building downtown and will open its 22nd branch there this spring.
"We've been looking at this area for a good five to six years; we just kept waiting and waiting for the right location," Norway Savings Bank Chairman and CEO Robert Harmon said. "That area — from what we've seen, and we have customers already over there — it's just a great, ripe market for potential business for the bank.
"New things are happening and people are getting excited about it," he said. "We want to be part of that process."
The full-service branch will have at least six employees, including tellers and commercial and retail lenders. It will operate a drive-through on the side of the building that faces the Hilton Garden Inn.
The bank's nearest locations are in Brunswick and Norway.
"That's why we think, from the branching standpoint, it just makes all the sense in the world," Harmon said.
The prominent building on the corner of Court Street and Great Falls Plaza is owned by Mark Anthoine, Mike Hebert and Dan Hebert, who bought it last spring from 31 Court Street Associates. That former owner had envisioned a bank tenant and had worked out the mechanics of the drive-through and additional parking with the city last year, buying nearby city-owned green space.
Willis insurance group had occupied all four floors. That company moved to Lewiston two months ago when its lease ended.
"To me, this is a such a pivotal spot for anybody who wants to be in the downtown, either Lewiston or Auburn," Anthoine said. "I think (Norway Savings Bank is) really excited, and so are we to have them in there."
Anthoine is a managing director and partner at BGA Financial, which hopes to move into the building's third floor next year. The fourth floor has been leased to the accounting firm of Pacios, Rausch & Chasse.
"We're in negotiations with a few different people on the second floor," Anthoine said. "I think it's going to be good. We're going to have many more people in that building than had been in the last few years. I think it's good spillover for different businesses in the area."
Norway Savings Bank closed on the sale of the first floor two weeks ago and is gutting the space. It will leave at least two original features.
Some years ago, the space was a bank, Harmon said. "There's actually two vaults we're keeping, as part of its history. It's funny how things come back around."
One large vault will be decorative. The other will hold safe-deposit boxes and will feature biometric hand-scanning for access.
A news conference is planned for 11 a.m. Thursday on the ground floor at 31 Court St.