LANSING, N.Y. — Pandemic worries aside for a moment, Tompkins County is something of an alluring market for regional banks and financial institutions. It has a sizable, comparatively affluent population, enjoys a prosperous economy, and serves as a regional draw. It’s with those qualities in mind that a Cayuga County-based bank seeks to become the latest entrant into the Ithaca-area financial market.

Cayuga Lake National Bank is a small organization, but with a long history. Founded in 1864, the bank is headquartered in Union Springs, with a second branch in a historic building in downtown Aurora. It’s a small fish in a sea of financial lenders, with about 25 employees. Think of it like the First National Bank of Groton or First National Bank of Dryden. It’s the kind of modest Main Street institution that used to populate many of the region’s smaller towns, before mergers and consolidations wiped most of them out. But rather than be swept away like many of its former peers, the bank is holding its own. In fact, it seeks to grow with a third branch, and its first outside of Cayuga County, to be built in the town of Lansing.

Plans filed with the town of Lansing show the new branch would be located on the corner of North Triphammer Road and Franklyn Drive, on what is currently vacant land owned by Andy Sciarabba’s SEE Associates. Sciarabba cleared a derelict trailer from the lot several years ago, and has already redeveloped the northern half of the property into a commercial retail plaza. Cayuga Lake National Bank would buy a subdivided portion of the southern parcel from Sciarabba to build its new branch. The remainder of the North Triphammer and Franklyn parcel would remain vacant for the time being.

Plans drawn up by Delta Engineers, Architects and Surveyors of Endwell call for a full-service bank branch office with three drive-thru lanes as well as indoor service desks and office space. The plans also include the usual complement of landscaping, lighting, signage, about 25 parking spaces and stormwater facilities. According to Site Plan Review documents filed with the town, the overall development costs are estimated to be $1.5 million.

That would be a rather high price tag for a 3,000 square-foot bank, but the project does appear to show a second smaller commercial space on the right (eastern) side of its footprint. According to Sciarabba, the SEE Associates label in the site plan drawings is just an awkward placement (this was confirmed in “current condition” drawing, which has the label in the same spot), so the most likely possibility is that it’s a small amount of rentable commercial space.

“The Board of Directors and Management have been implementing our strategic plan for the bank with a focus on maintaining Cayuga Lake National Bank’s independence that has been in place since the Bank was established in 1864. We feel the expansion into a new market is a major step towards reaching that goal. There has been and continues to be significant residential and commercial development in the Lansing community and CLNB is honored and excited at the opportunity to bring a community bank into this market,” said Cayuga Lake National Bank President and CEO Kelly Wade. Wade cited Lansing’s proximity to their other branches, as well as the Lansing Town Center development and other nearby population and business growth, as a great opportunity to put down roots in a growing part of the Tompkins County financial market.

“We are customer-focused and community-minded and feel that this partnership with the Lansing community will be a mutually beneficial one. The Bank has a signed purchase offer and is working through the requirements of the due diligence period, which includes the approval of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency.” The Office of the Comptroller of Currency is a bureau within the U.S. Department of the Treasury that regulates and supervises banks, including the legal approval for new bank branches.

The town of Lansing’s Planning Board is set to have their first look at the plans later this month. The bank hopes to have the plans approved by late fall, and have the new branch open in Spring 2021.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.