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Neighbors say Bank of America’s closure of Highland Park branch to create banking desert

By CAROL HAZARD Richmond Times-Dispatch

February 3, 2016

Bank of America will close a branch in Highland Park next month — and it’s not going over well with people in the neighborhood of historic districts north of downtown Richmond.

Residents, business owners and developers say the March 21 closing of the branch at 1307 E. Brookland Park Blvd. will create a banking desert in a majority black, low- to moderate-income neighborhood.

The Highland Park branch will be consolidated with a branch at 2601 W. Broad St. in Richmond, which is 2.7 miles away.

Matthew Daily, spokesman for the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank, said Bank of America has four financial centers within 4 miles of the Highland Park location.

“We’re always looking at our branch and ATM network and reviewing usage to see where we have opportunities to consolidate or opportunities to grow,” he said.

The closing of the Highland Park branch is especially troubling, residents say, because the North Richmond neighborhood is finally being revitalized and several developments are in the works.

New projects include the Highland Park Senior Apartments, a historic preservation project in a former school that reopened last month as a replacement for the aging Frederic A. Fay Towers (in North Jackson Ward) for low-income seniors.

The first residents moved into their units in January, with the remaining seniors set to move in this month.

The renovation, which began in 2015, was seen as a catalyst for more revitalization at the Six Points intersection, where Second Avenue and East Brookland Park Boulevard converge in Highland Park.

The timing for the bank closing is premature, “in light of all the good things happening in Highland Park, which at one time it had a lot of crime,” said Raymond Turner, a resident of Highland Park since the late 1960s.

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