Citibank, which spent millions in the last decade building branch offices in prime East Coast locations to lure small-business borrowers and middle-class savers, is preparing to shut its branches on the Main Line and other suburban locations, and focus instead on "the world's great cities."
Central Philadelphia apparently qualifies as a "world's great city." All five Center City Citi offices will stay open, including the one that occupies the space long held by the old Doc's Leisure Time porno shop across from the Convention Center.
But branches in shopping-mall towns and near Regional Rail stops - even in blue-chip school districts - are doomed to close. Citi offices in Berwyn, Chester County; Villanova, Media, and Springfield, Delaware County; Abington, East Norriton, Montgomeryville, Plymouth Meeting, and Willow Grove, Montgomery County; and Doylestown, Southampton, and Warrington, Bucks County, will shut in March, bank spokeswoman Catherine Pulley told me.
An office in Fairless Hills that handled corporate and digital deposits shut last week. Branches in parts of the suburbs of Boston and some of New York's North Jersey suburbs are also slated to close.
Citi is also shutting its branch in the upscale Chestnut Hill neighborhood - but will keep the doors open at its new office near Pulaski and Chelten Streets in grittier Germantown. Offices in Bala Cynwyd and Cherry Hill, and in Lawrenceville, N.J., and the Wilmington area, will also remain.
With more people banking online and by smartphone instead of taking time to drive to a branch, and with profit margins from traditional bank lending cut by near-record-low interest rates, Citi said earlier this month it would cut about 4 percent of its workforce as part of a "repositioning." That's 11,000 jobs, including 5,000 in its information technology group.
There's better news in the Wilmington area, where Citi employs around 1,500 in its tax shelter, corporate, and consumer banking back offices. In Delaware, Citi "will see a slight increase in overall number of employees as a result of the repositioning actions," Pulley told me.
Shares of PBF Energy, the Parsippany, N.J.,-based company that runs the former Valero refineries in Paulsboro and Delaware City, Del., and the former Sunoco's first refinery in Toledo, Ohio, have been trading a buck or two above Thursday's initial public stock offering (IPO) price of $26 a share.
PBF, run by veteran refinery investor Thomas O'Malley, says it raised $533 million and will use the money to buy back shares from investment funds at First Reserve Corp. and Blackstone Group.
Post Bros. Co., the Philadelphia firm owned by brothers Michael and Matthew Pestronk, who moved here to go to Drexel and stayed because real estate was cheap, last week agreed to pay $51 million for the 1,030-unit Presidential City Apartments complex, 3900 City Ave. The Presidential overlooks the Schuylkill Expressway and charges rents rising from $765 for a studio to $1,835 for three bedrooms.
Gebroe-Hammer Associates' Joseph Brecher and Eli Rosen represented the seller, an affiliate of investor Lloyd Goldman's Manhattan-based BLDG Management Inc., which will still lease the ground-level retail part of the complex, according to Gebroe-Hammer.
Post, which has clashed with Philadelphia building trades unions over its refusal to agree to work with all-union contractors, has been buying up rundown apartment buildings, gutting or renovating them, and jacking up rents. It's a national trend: Rents are up since the banking crisis of 2008, which made it tougher for working people to get home loans and pushed many into apartments.
The Pennsylvania branches that are closing on March 15, 2013:
938 Old York Rd. Abington
448 W. Swedesford Rd. Berwyn
1723 S. Easton Rd. Doylestown
75 W. Germantown Pike East Norriton
7 E. Baltimore Ave. Media
776 Bethlehem Pike Montgomeryville
8500 Germantown Ave. Philadelphia
520 W. Germantown Pike Plymouth Meeting
511 Second Street Pike Southampton
1002 Baltimore Pike Springfield
781 Easton Rd. Warrington
2524 W. Moreland Rd. Willow Grove
795 E. Lancaster Ave. Villanova