Dear Mr. Valley:

I just read your article in the August 2003 edition of National Real Estate Investor that described how banks in Chicago and New York are “bidding” for prime retail locations.

This is certainly a different picture of what currently exists here in the Southern California area. When I first started in commercial leasing in 1980 after earning my broker license in California, we had (in this area) an abundance of retail commercial banks and savings banks, all competing for a prime corner or mall location. I loved to find banks who were looking to expand simply because developers of retail centers, back then and today, love to have a creditworthy tenant such as a bank.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over and merged many banks out of business. Today, in Los Angeles, the biggest S&L is Washington Mutual, which acquired Great Western Bank. That bank had previously acquired other savings banks, leaving vacancy signs in every zip code in California.

Today, few banks desire new locations here due to their abundance of existing branch sites along with their decision to abandon locations a dozen or so years ago, plus the use of ATMs found at banks, markets and shopping malls.

I personally doubt that the Southern California area, including Los Angeles, San Diego and other mega population areas will ever see the proliferation of bank branches that we had previously just because of the (forced) merger activities of a decade or so ago.

Your publication is very informative and has articles found nowhere else. Keep up the good work!

Sincerely,
Milt Cohen
MHC Financial
Chatsworth, Calif.