United buys McIn­tosh bank build­ing

The Covington News - - Front page - By Gabriel Khouli gkhouli@cov­news.com

United Bank has pur­chased the 16-684-quare foot McIn­tosh Com­mer­cial Bank build­ing on U.S. High­way 278 for $2.25 mil­lion.

CEO Jim Ed­wards said Tues­day af­ter­noon that pur­chas­ing the build­ing, which has safe de­posit boxes and a drive-through, will po­si­tion the bank for strong growth. United is the fourth-largest bank in Newton County and has 10 per­cent of the county’s to­tal de­posits, which were val­ued at $661 mil­lion by the FDIC as of July 2010.

“We’ve been open in Cov­ing­ton for al­most four years, and we found it to be a very suc­cess­ful mar­ket, one of our fastest grow­ing,” Ed­wards said.

Ed­wards said it was cheaper to pur­chase the McIn­tosh build­ing than to con­struct a new build­ing, con­sid­er­ing United paid about 30 cents on the dol­lar. McIn­tosh failed in March 2010.

“One of our con­cerns, it’s not ex­actly the style we’re used to; we usu­ally go for smaller, more mod­est build­ings,” Ed­wards said. “We were also wor­ried that if the build­ing was not pur­chased, what would that area look like. In a few years if it wasn’t pur­chased, it would be­come an al­ba­tross.”

The United branch in Newton Plaza will be moved to the McIn­tosh lo­ca­tion dur­ing the next two to three months. The bank will oc­cupy the first floor of the build­ing and the sec­ond floor will be rented out to other busi­nesses, Ed­wards said. United also has lo­ca­tions in Cov­ing­ton on Washington Street

and in Wal­mart.

While many Ge­or­gia banks have strug­gled or failed since the hous­ing mar­ket col­lapsed, United has used the re­ces­sion to ac­quire as­sets for pen­nies on the dol­lar. The bank pur­chased the as­sets of First Ge­or­gia Com­mu­nity Bank in 2009, First Coweta Bank in 2009 and First Na­tional Bank in 2010. United Bank has 23 bank­ing lo­ca­tions in 11 coun­ties around metro At­lanta and a com­bined $1 bil­lion in as­sets, $110 mil­lion in cap­i­tal and em­ploys more than 350 peo­ple.

“We are not his­tor­i­cally a rapidly-grow­ing com­pany, we’ve been steady. But in the right mar­kets, we’ve con­tinue to ex­pand in a thought­ful mode. With the down­turn we saw op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Ed­wards said. “Long-term, we see Cov­ing­ton and Newton County as one of our most im­por­tant lo­ca­tions. We re­ally didn’t have the fa­cil­i­ties, long-term, to be able to serve as much of that mar­ket as feel like we would need to. This fa­cil­ity will give us room to grow for years.”

The bank could ex­pand to the sec­ond floor of the build­ing, and it has ex­cess land around the build­ing, but Ed­wards said he didn’t ex­pect the bank to need that space for many years.

“When At­lanta starts grow­ing again, it will grow out I-75 and 20 and 85. That’s where our mar­kets are,” Ed­wards said. “There will be bet­ter times ahead and now is the time to po­si­tion our­selves.”

File photo/The Cov­ing­ton News

New own­ers: The old McIn­tosh Bank build­ing was re­cently pur­chased by United Bank

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