Why Are There So Many Banks In Morristown?
"You Ask ... Patch Answers" tackles the burning questions around town.
"Why are there so many banks in Morristown? We must own some sort of record for financial institutions per square mile or something."
This is the question this week in "You Ask ... Patch Answers," where Morristown Patch tackles some of the questions readers have been curious about, but have not been able to locate an answer. We're here to help.
Like death and taxes are two unavoidable realities of life, two unavoidable businesses in Morristown are restaurants and banks. For some, like Alison, it seems there is a rather unusually large number of banks here.
Why? Is it a conscious decision by the town to get more and more banks here? Is there something about Morristown that has attracted them here?
Well, yes, actually, both reasons are kind of true. According to France Delle Donne, director of development for Morristown Partnership, banks and financial services firms expanded and merged nationwide from 2005 through 2007 and securing a presence in multiple locations was the objective. "More locations meant more deposits," she said.
"As a commercial property owner why would you refuse a tenant that will pay you upward of $55 to $65 a square foot, more than double the market rate in Morristown at that time," Delle Donne said.
Town Zoning Officer John Fugger said banks, as financial institutions, are permitted in multiple areas of town, including the downtown area and office districts. "When they see an available building, they're going to try and open up a bank in town," he said.
Morristown has had a lot of banks open up in town in recent years. Fugger estimated up to 10 new banks have moved into town in the last 15 years, which does not include new banks replacing old ones. In total, in Morristown's three-square-miles, there are "well over 25 banks in town," he said.
"The issue is, with a normal retail store, when they try and lease a space in some of these popular districts, where there is pedestrian traffic and visual traffic, these landlords keep bumping up rent ... a person wants to open a boutique or small restaurant, can't afford rent they are paying," Fugger said. "The banks, who have all the money to spend, will pick that up if they want to."
The simple answer to the question is, according to Fugger, "Banks are banks. They want to do business."
In addition, "we [Morristown] want to keep our vacant spaces un-vacant," he added.
Thank you, Alison, for your question.