Cape Cod Five purchase paves the way for State Road branch

Photo by Michael Cummo

The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank announced plans on Monday to open a new full-service branch office at 412 State Road in Tisbury on the site of a proposed grocery store in the heart of the roadway’s commercial district.

Cape Five purchased the 1.01 acre property from Vineyard Grocer and Tisbury Farm Market owner Elio Silva on July 25. The purchase price was $2.6 million, according to the Registry of Deeds.

Pending local and bank regulatory approvals, the Cape Cod Five plans to open a full-service banking center on the site by the summer of 2015, according to a press release emailed to The Times on Monday.

“The acquisition of this property underscores our commitment to Martha’s Vineyard,” Cape Cod Five president and CEO Dorothy Savarese said in prepared remarks. “It is in keeping with our core values to meet the needs of each community we serve across several dimensions, one of which is with a full-service banking center where appropriate. We are also active participants in the communities we serve and make a point of giving back to them.”

Cape Five has been operating out of a small office in Vineyard Haven. In another sign that the bank plans to seriously expand its footprint on the Island, Cape Five also announced on Monday that well known Island banker and community volunteer Richard Leonard, 54, would take the helm as regional president for Martha’s Vineyard.

In a follow-up phone conversation with The Times on Monday, Robert (Bert) Talerman, Cape Cod Five’s executive vice president in charge of lending, echoed Ms. Savarese’s enthusiasm.

“We’re thrilled to have been able to find this property and to be able to negotiate the purchase of it, and also to become a permanent member of the community on Martha’s Vineyard in a full-service capacity,” Mr. Talerman said.

He said that Cape Cod Five’s decision to acquire property on Martha’s Vineyard stemmed from a long history of serving customers on the Island. The bank currently operates a loan production office in Vineyard Haven.

“As a result of having that customer base and hearing good things from that customer base, obviously we’re very excited to be in a position to do more and serve customers through a local facility that will offer them the full range of banking services that we provide,” Mr. Talerman said.

At the same time that Cape Five widens its beachhead on the Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, headquartered in Edgartown, has established a presence on the Cape. In June, the bank opened a full-service branch office on Palmer Avenue in Falmouth, its second Falmouth location. A Woods Hole branch opened in 2009.

Why State Road?

Mr. Talerman said finding the right property was not easy.

“First of all, there are limited locations on Martha’s Vineyard where we could do what we’d like to do,” he said. “And we think it’s a terrific location, kind of in the middle of lots of other activities that people travel to.”

Mr. Talerman said the bank’s decisions on properties for its offices are based on due diligence and feedback received from trusted advisors and employees who are involved in the process, as well as customers.

“Based on the feedback we gathered, the indications are this is a nice location for us and the community, and that’s what it’s all about, to serve our customers and be an asset to the community, which is what we strive to do in all the communities we serve,” Mr. Talerman said.

The site was formerly occupied by a Coca-Cola bottling plant, and most recently, a home furnishings store in front and an art gallery in back.

“The other thing that really excited us is this is a previously developed property,” Mr. Talerman said. “So we’ll be renovating one of the existing structures on the property as opposed to starting fresh somewhere else.”

The renovations made by Cape Cod Five will be in keeping with its green energy principles, which emphasize recycling and energy efficiency, he added.

The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank is an independent, state-chartered savings bank with over $2.5 billion in assets, according to the press release.

Off the shelf

Mr. Silva signed an agreement to purchase the property in 2011 for $1.7 million contingent on approval by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) of his plans

to consolidate his two existing grocery stores, also on State Road, into a new 7,400-square-foot building with four one-bedroom apartments.

In April 2011, the MVC moved with uncharacteristic speed, and completed the public review of the proposal as a development of regional impact (DRI) in one week. That was followed by unanimous approval on May 5, 2011. Mr. Silva closed on the property on October 5, 2011.

In 2012, he returned to the MVC to request a modification to the DRI. His new proposal called for the demolition of both buildings on the site and to rebuild a new, larger, three-story, 11,120 square-foot grocery store complex to include a market, bakery, offices, and four apartments.

The commissioners agreed the modification was a significant enough change to require a new public hearing on February 7. The modified DRI was approved by the commission on March 8, with additional conditions.

In June 2012, Mr. Silva informed the MVC he planned to continue to run his businesses as they were, and to use the back building at 412 State Road as an art gallery. Although his approved DRI permit was good until 2018, Paul Foley, MVC DRI analyst and planner, said Mr. Silva did not move forward with any construction.

In January 2014, the State Road property came up in discussions during the MVC’s extended public hearing process for the Stop & Shop Company proposal to expand its Vineyard Haven store. Behind the scenes, Mr. Silva and his agent, Robert Sawyer of Tisbury, a real estate broker, promoted the idea that Stop & Shop executives should consider a property swap.

Stop & Shop representatives said emphatically that such a swap was not practical, or even an option. Despite those statements, commissioner Ned Orleans of Tisbury persisted in discussing an alternative and alluded to “another location out there,” without naming Mr. Silva’s property specifically.

The Cape Cod Five proposal, once finalized, will go to the MVC for review, since the property was previously approved for a different DRI. Bank representatives are tentatively scheduled to meet with the MVC land use planning committee next Monday night for a pre-DRI modification application review, according to Mr. Foley.

The property has drawn considerable regulatory scrutiny in the past. In addition to Mr. Silva’s proposal, in 2002, the MVC reviewed a proposal to build a gas station, but rejected it, citing concerns about increased traffic along State Road, reliance on the automobile in general, and the economic pressure a new station might place on up-Island Island gas retailers.

Mr. Silva did not respond to multiple phone messages left on his cell phone and at his two businesses.