WALLINGFORD — Wells Fargo will reopen its North Main Street branch, but not for long.
The bank at 86 N. Main St., which has been closed since the pandemic began last spring, will reopen “soon” before shutting down on May 19, with bank operations shifting about two miles away to another Wells Fargo branch at 872 N. Colony Road, said Kevin S. Friedlander, a bank spokesman.
The Wells Fargo story mirrors that of a Bank of America financial center that closed at 100 Center St. in September 2018. Bank of America kept its branch at 938 N. Colony Road and put an ATM at the old Center Street site. Increased online banking and a need to consolidate operations to increase efficiency and profits helped drive the closing.
Changing customer preferences and economic trends drove the Wells Fargo closure, Friedlander said.
The Center Street building was sold and turned into an holistic center.
Kathy Lilley, executive director of Wallingford Center, Inc., a private non-profit corporation created to preserve and revitalize downtown, hopes to see the Wells Fargo building on North Main flip quickly — if Wells Fargo opts to sell to someone else or rent or lease space in the building.
“It is right in our downtown so I think it should turn over quickly because people are looking for some larger properties now,” Lilley said Wednesday. “It is a pretty prominent building.”
Pandemic social-distancing requirements make larger spaces more feasible. The building is opposite the police and fire stations and near the Simpson Court-area restaurants and stores. It’s the former site of the Moses Y. Beach house.
“It would be nice to have a restaurant in at least part of that,” Lilley said of the Wells Fargo building.
When the pandemic began, entrepreneurs were scouting locations downtown. One wanted to put in a wine bar, and a representative from Plan B restaurants was in the mix, as was a business owner who wanted to install a retail store that would sell video games and have a gaming parlor for game competitions, Lilley said.
Downtown took a blow when Jake’s, a popular bar and restaurant at 179 Center St., closed, but another business, a steak and chops restaurant called J. Carvers, plans to open in the same spot early next month, Lilley said.