Palmetto Bank coming to Rock Hill

A South Carolina bank will open its first Rock Hill branch on Oakland Avenue this spring, hoping to tap into the potential it sees in the downtown district.

Palmetto Bank plans to move in June into the old Carolina First building at the corner of Oakland and Wilson Street. About 10 employees will be hired, with at least four to work out of a separate office just across the road.

The location puts the bank between downtown and Winthrop University, just outside the massive redevelopment site known as the Textile Corridor. Shops, restaurants, offices and townhouses are planned on 250 acres that were formerly home to a collection of textile plants.

"We'd love to be part of that," bank president Andy Douglas said. "Having seen what Greenville has done with its downtown, it's phenomenal. I get a sense that can happen in Rock Hill, too."

The bank made an uncommon choice. Branches typically choose the bustling northwest side of town, near Piedmont Medical Center and a number of upscale neighborhoods. In the past year, the National Bank of South Carolina, Provident Community Bank, Carolina First and Wachovia have opened or expanded offices there.

President from Rock Hill

The expansion into Rock Hill represents a homecoming of sorts for Douglas, who also serves as chief retail officer. Douglas grew up on Sedgewood Drive and started his career in 1975 in the same building where the branch is now going. Back then, it was Rock Hill National Bank.

"It's been wonderful for me coming back and reacquainting with everybody," said Douglas, 56, who will continue to live in Greenville. "It's a whole different place. There's still a lot of folks who are old-timers, but there's a whole new business group kind of driving things, and that's not all bad."

Founded in 1906, Palmetto Bank manages $2.1 billion in assets including commercial, trust, brokerage and mortgage services. It has 32 locations in the Upstate, mostly around Spartanburg and Greenville.

Randy Graham at Sperry Van Ness/Southern Commercial Real Estate handled leasing. The arrival of a new bank usually is a good economic indicator, he said.

"They all want a piece of the pie, but apparently our pie keeps getting bigger," Graham said. "Everybody talks about how many different banks are coming to the area. It apparently hasn't gotten oversaturated at this point."