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Community to close former HSBC branches in Watertown, Lowville

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Citing their proximity to other branches it owns, Community Bank NA of Syracuse said it will close former HSBC Bank branches in Watertown, 120 Washington St., and Lowville, 7550 S. State St., on Sept. 10.

The branch Community purchased at 120 Washington St. is only a few hundred feet from the location it owns at 216 Washington St. In Lowville, Community has two branches, on North State Street and at the Lowville Plaza on Turin Road. The branches were among 16 Community bought from HSBC in upstate New York this summer.

“We looked at the proximity of these branches and decided this was the best way to efficiently serve our customers,” said Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Tryniski in a statement. “We want to stress there will be no layoffs as a result of this consolidation move.”

Effective Sept. 10, customers at the closing Watertown branch will move to 216 Washington St., while those at the Lowville branch will move to its location at 7605 N. State St. Community did not specify where staffs will be relocated, but they’ll likely move to multiple branches.

Housing 22 tenants, the building at 120 Washington St. is owned by nine partners from 200 Washington Street Associates. The two-story Lowville building on South State Street, privately owned by Lowville Partnership, houses Behavioral Health and Wellness Center of Lewis County and several other businesses.

Surprisingly enough, Community issued a statement Tuesday without contacting the Watertown building’s landlord, said managing partner Donald G.M. Coon III. Community still has to honor a lease for the office space through 2017 for HSBC but it hasn’t specified how that will be paid off.

“I’m surprised I haven’t heard from anyone about this,” Mr. Coon said. “Whether (Community) is going to remain a financial tenant remains to be seen.”

Community could elect to lease space for offices, for example, or continue to lease it without use. Ideally, another financial institution or business will move into the space this year, Mr. Coon said.

“That’s one of the best buildings in Watertown, and I’m confident we’ll be able to put a quality tenant in there to continue some kind of service,” he said. “Whether it’s a financial institution remains to be seen, but it’s always preferable to have a tenant that’s going to stay for a long time that you don’t have to worry about.”

In September 2007, 200 Washington Street Associates purchased the former HSBC building.

Community will contact customers who have safety deposit boxes at the consolidated locations about opening boxes at new locations.

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