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Citizens National to build location on South Campbell

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by Paul Flemming

SBJ Staff

Citizens National Bank closed March 24 on South Campbell property where the local bank will build its third location. Bank officials said construction of the new building will begin in late summer, with an opening date in spring 1999.

The 4221 S. Campbell property is at the southwest corner of Campbell and Republic Road. A number of banks are already located in the immediate area, and more are coming.

"I think you can compare it to the old McDonald's thing whenever a McDonald's opens on a corner it won't be long and there will be a Burger King and a Hardee's on the same corner," said Frank Hilton, president of Citizens National.

NationsBank, Mercantile, Wood & Huston, Union Planters and Signature banks all have locations in the immediate area. Great Southern is also planning a new branch on South Campbell.

"We're all attracted to that big potential of opportunities," Hilton said. "I think there's enough for all of us."

He said the Git-N-Go convenience store located just west of the property on Republic Road is the first or second store in that chain in terms of location sales. "The demographics of the city show this area is where things are happening."

Hilton pointed to Campbell and James River Expressway as major arteries for Springfield's southwest growth. "We have had numerous requests for a location in southwest Springfield," Hilton said. "We know our existing and future customers will appreciate the convenience of this new location."

He said the bank considered the property for about four months. Hilton said the bank made an offer on the former Roosevelt Bank property at 4021 S. Campbell, available as a result of its merger with Mercantile. "Not being able to acquire that, we started looking up and down the street," Hilton said. Signature Bank's application for a state charter in 1997 indicated more than 35,000 cars a day travel that section of South Campbell.

The third location for the 9-year-old Citizens National comes after it opened its second location on South Glenstone in 1997. That experience will help the bank in this next building project, Hilton said. "Having done it once, it will be easier the second time around," he said. From construction to logistics of its operations and the effect another location will have on its business, the bank has a better idea of how things will go.

Hilton said about 15 percent to 20 percent of business at its Glenstone branch were customers transferring from its original East Sunshine bank. The remainder of its business was new at the Glenstone branch and new business replaced customers who transferred from the Sunshine branch. Now Citizens National's business breaks down to about 60 percent at the original bank and 40 percent at the second branch. Hilton said he expects a similar scenario with the South Campbell bank.

"In the first 18 months (at the Glenstone branch) we've been able to overcome those costs" of expansion, Hilton said.

Planning the future building is in its beginning stages. Hilton said a two-story and single-story structure is being considered with 6,500 square feet to 9,000 square feet of space, depending on the configuration chosen.

Whatever the final decision, the bank will be a full-service branch with four drive-through lanes.

He said the Glenstone branch has about 3,000 square feet of as-yet unused space for the bank to grow into.

"We have needs we didn't used to have now that we're $100 million plus" in assets, Hilton said.

The bank earlier announced record growth in 1997. Citizens National, founded in 1989 by Hilton and David McBeath, executive vice president, recorded almost 30 percent growth last year. The bank now has more than $110 million in assets and employs 50.

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