Mergers in the banking sector are creating opportunites for retailers who are lining up to take on former bank branch space. Mergers such the one between Wachovia and South Trust inevitably produce overlap in retail banking locations. In the past, the majority of these sites were taken on by other banks.

But Jarrett Wells, managing director of branch sales and leasing with American Financial Realty Trust, says that retail chains like Walgreen's and fast food restaurants have become more aggressive in pursuing the space.

“You're talking about well-located, freestanding, 2,400 to 5,000-square-foot pads that are fully improved, with drive throughs and most likely corner locations,” Wells says. “The idea of converting something like that is very palatable when compared with developing ground-up,” Wells says. With more bank mergers likely, there should be a steady stream of this kind of space in coming years.