June 12, 2007

Concord Center merchants battle Citibank

It's hard to argue that a Citibank would generate too much traffic, bring in "undesirables," or hurt property values. Yet many merchants in Concord Center are nevertheless opposed to plans for a Citibank branch in the heart of the town's historic retail district. And they're right.

Concord Center might be a great place to locate from the perspective of a nationwide bank: lots of foot traffic, and lots of tourists who are likely to want to pop in and get some money to spend. But a historic district with local retailers that thrive on foot traffic is the wrong place for a big branch of a national bank.

* What makes Concord Center special is its sense of place. Start adding too many national chains to the mix, and the area will start looking like every other part of America, not something special.

* A major national bank branch is a bad choice for a street that otherwise has a lot of unique local merchants. It breaks up the interest in the streetscape for shoppers on foot.

From what I hear, Citibank is slated to come in and displace two loal businesses, incluidng the Artful Image. However, it sounds like a special permit would be required, to change the use from retail.

Citibank would be a better corporate citizen if it found another spot outside the historic district for a fully staffed branch, and set up an ATM only within the center.

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