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May 19, 2021

Oak View National plans new HQ in Warrenton

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
The bank plans a 7,000-square-foot building on the 1.2-acre site at Garrett and Waterloo streets in Warrenton.
The site at 340 Waterloo Street lies just east of the Broadview/Shirley Ave. commercial strip, where Oak View launched in 2009.
I’m pretty confident that the town will work with us on a pretty good balance there.
— Oak View National CEO Mike Ewing
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
If all goes as planned, Oak View National Bank would move its headquarters to Warrenton’s Waterloo Street next year.

“We’re going to move in haste to get the project going,” bank Senior Vice President Sam Parker said of the planned one-story, 7,000-square-foot structure that would stand on 1.2 acres at Garrett and Waterloo streets. “We’re not just putting it on the shelf and picking it up down the road. We’re actively working on it right now.”

The new building would replace the bank’s nearby headquarters and full-service office at 128 Broadview Ave. That 7,000-square-foot structure previously housed a Kubota tractor dealership.

While bank officials project a “summer to fall” 2022 opening of the new headquarters, “things can always change,” Mr. Parker cautioned.

No firm budget exists for the project, he said.

The bank last Friday completed purchase of the commercially-zoned site at 340 Waterloo St., paying Jumpin Run Farm LLC $585,000 for it.

Oak View Bank board member Alvin F. Henry owns Jumpin Run, which purchased the Waterloo property from Atlantic Union Bank for $575,000. (County land records identify Atlantic Union as the “successor by merger to Middleburg Bank.”)

For tax purposes, the county values the property at $916,600.

In purchasing the property from Atlantic Union, Mr. Henry’s LLC served as a “strawman,” Oak View National Bank CEO Mike Ewing said.

“We just figured that Atlantic Union Bank might be reluctant to sell it to another bank,” Mr. Ewing explained. “The term is a ‘strawman’.”

The Waterloo Street lot purchase completes a lengthy and extensive review of potential bank sites, Mr. Ewing said.

“We have been searching for a new location for the better part of five years,” Oak View’s chief executive said. “It’s been difficult to find the perfect spot. We feel that this one has much-improved accessibility compared to where we are today, with still good visibility.

“And, it’s close to the downtown area and very accessible to the people out on Broadview Avenue.”

The bank considered 20 to 30 sites in Warrenton before deciding to buy the Waterloo Street property, he said.

“Either (a potential site) didn’t turn out to be feasible, or it wasn’t available for sale,” Mr. Ewing said. “Those types of things.”

Properties under consideration included the former BB&T bank building at 21 Main St. that the town eventually purchased in 2019 for a new Town Hall. The town paid $2.2 million for the building and 2.2-acre site at Main, First and Horner streets.

But Oak View passed on the property for several reasons, Mr. Ewing said.

“That building was way too big for us,” he said of the 30,000-square-foot structure. “The other (reason) was the lobby and the drive-thru are separated in that building. And, lastly, BB&T kind of demonstrated that they didn’t have much business there.

“They and The Fauquier Bank both” opened full-service branches along “the bypass. So why would we go against the tide when two banks had demonstrated it was better to be out on the bypass?”

The Waterloo Street project will require special use permit approval — a review process that involves public hearings before Warrenton’s planning commission and town council. The commission serves as an advisory panel to the council, which has final authority.

It also will need site plan approval from the town staff.

The proposal will include Waterloo and Garrett streets entrances, a drive-thru and parking in the front of the structure along Waterloo Street, Mr. Ewing said.

“The building, for us, is going to sit — more or less — in the middle of the parcel,” he said. “We’ll need an entrance onto Garrett Street. But, we need it far enough back from the intersection with Waterloo so that we don’t back up traffic with people up at the corner and blocking our entrance.”

Onsite traffic ideally should circle the building, Mr. Ewing said.

“We have to have flow around the building,” he said. “From a security standpoint, customers like to feel like they’ve been around the building, so there’s no one lurking that would be a security concern.”

While Oak View National has filed no project applications with the town, Mr. Ewing and Mr. Parker informally have talked with Warrenton staff members about the proposal.

Mr. Ewing sounded optimistic about the project’s prospects.

“It would not be fair for us to ask for approval at this point,” Mr. Ewing said. “There’s going to be some give-and-take.”

But he believes that the bank, the town staff and ultimately the council “will work out something that’s mutually beneficial.”

“I think it’s good for all concerned that you need to have a balance between the desires of the town council and what’s important to the customers of an establishment and of the shareholders of the business,” Mr. Ewing said. “I’m pretty confident that the town will work with us on a pretty good balance there.”

Middleburg Bank in 2004 paid $1.2 million for the Waterloo Street property, where it planned to build a branch.

But in the early 2000s, BB&T acquired First Virginia Bank through a merger. As a result, BB&T abandoned the First Virginia branch at 530 Blackwell Road in Warrenton.

Middleburg Bank eventually leased that building for its Warrenton branch.

The bank later sold the Waterloo Street parcel, concluding it made no sense to have two branches that close to each other.

Four years ago, a North Carolina-based development company that identifies potential Dollar General sites contracted to buy the Waterloo Street property where it planned to construct a 9,000s-square-foot building for the existing Warrenton store.

But that proposal never left the drawing board and Dollar General renewed its lease at the nearby Warrenton Towne Center on Frost Avenue .

Founded in 2009, Oak View has 48 employees, working in Warrenton, Marshall and Culpeper branches, along with loan-production office in Rappahannock County.

The independent bank had total assets of $299.7 million as of March 31. Total deposits stood at $254.3 million and total loans of $238.3 million.

Contact Don Del Rosso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-0300.
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