Chase Bank expansion plan could doom local Friendly's
MOUNT LAUREL – A Friendly’s restaurant could be demolished here as part of bank’s plan to expand into the South Jersey market.
The ice cream shop, on Route 38 near Ark Road, would be razed to make way for a Chase Bank branch, according to a proposal before Mount Laurel’s planning board.
Chase, which has 5,130 outlets across the country, plans to open 10 branches in South Jersey as part of a broader push into retail markets, said spokeswoman Carolyn Evert.
The firm opened its first South Jersey branch in November at the newly built Nursing and Science Building of Rutgers University-Camden. That outlet is at 5th and Federal streets in Camden.
Chase, with 200 branches elsewhere in New Jersey, has not announced its future locations in South Jersey.
But Evesham’s planning board has approved plans for a Chase branch at the former site of a gas station on eastbound Route 70 near Old Marlton Pike.
Chase also seeks approval to build at Route 130 and Cinnaminson Avenue in Cinnaminson.
“We are going to be opening 50 branches in the Delaware Valley in the next five years,” Evert said.
Plans call for 30 outlets in Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs, as well as 10 outlets in Delaware, she said.
The Manhattan-based firm plans to hire up to 300 workers for retail operations in the tri-state area. It expects to provide some $3 billion in loans to homeowners and small business operators in the region.
The expansion “will add to the firm’s current base of more than 1 million consumers and over 30,000 business clients in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley region,” the company said in a statement.
It noted Chase has been active for more than 20 years in the Philadelphia area, where operations include a credit card hub in Wilmington, Del.
The local branches will be part of a $20 billion expansion effort for Chase, which has assets of $2.6 trillion.
The firm expects to open 400 branches in multiple markets over the next five years, said Evert.
“Washington, D.C., was our first expansion market, with the Delaware Valley second,” she said. The bank entered the Boston market about two weeks ago.
Mount Laurel’s planning board is to consider the proposal for the roughly 3,500-square-foot Chase branch at its Jan. 10 meeting.
A spokesman for The Ferber Company, a Florida-base firm that proposed the project, could not be reached for comment.
A Friendly’s representative said there are no plans to close the restaurant “at this time.”
The Massachusetts-based restaurant chain previously closed a Cherry Hill outlet in September. That Route 70 site remains vacant.
Jim Walsh: @jimwalsh_cp; 856-486-2646; email@example.com