ITHACA, N.Y. — The branches of Elmira Savings Bank will soon be known by another name in the city of gorges. The Elmira-based bank has been bought by a Syracuse-based bank.

Community Bank System, Inc. which does retail banking as Community Bank N.A., and Elmira Savings Bank have entered into an acquisition agreement where Community Bank will take over ESB’s assets. The all-cash transaction, which was approved by the board of directors of each firm, comes with a sales price of $82.8 million according to the press release.

The merger is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022, and is subject to the standard regulatory process for financial mergers and acquisitions, including approval by the shareholders of Elmira Saving Bank and required federal approvals.

Community Bank sees the purchase of Elmira Savings Bank as an opportunity to expand into the regional markets of the Eastern Finger Lakes and Southern Tier. Elmira Savings Bank operates eleven bank branches as well as its corporate headquarters in Downtown Elmira, with total financial assets valued at $648.7 million. Three of thosebranch locations are in and Ithaca, at 2300 Triphammer Road in the village of Lansing, and at 702 South Meadow Street and 602 West State Street in the city of Ithaca.

The 602 West State Street location is a recent addition that involved the expansion and modernization of a former West End restaurant space. However, it was not without controversy. With limited notice, the bank evicted three low-income households from houses it bought next to the commercial building so that it could make room for a drive-thru lane and larger parking lot. The move triggered protests Downtown, and the bank responded by extending the time permitted to move out from 30 days to 90, and donating $1,000 to each of the displaced families.

The press release states that employees of Elmira Savings Bank will be kept on as the firm is merged into Community Bank. The announcement does not state whether any branches will be closed, but does note that Elmira Saving Bank branches will be rebranded under the Community Bank N.A. moniker.

“We are pleased to announce that we have entered into a merger agreement with Community Bank System, which is a financially strong and effectively managed bank. Our shareholders, customers and employees will all benefit from this merger,” said Thomas M. Carr, President and Chief Executive Officer of Elmira Savings Bank. “Our customers will continue to receive the highly personalized service they expect, while having access to a greatly expanded set of products and services available from the larger combined organization with an extensive branch network and a robust digital and mobile banking presence. We are pleased to be able to enhance our service capacity in all of our current communities. Our employees benefit by becoming part of an organization which also values their commitment and contribution to the Company’s growth and profitability and which offers additional opportunities for professional growth and advancement. We view our combination with Community Bank as a win for all of our stakeholders, and we look forward to working closely with their team to complete the combination.”

Headquartered in the Syracuse suburb of DeWitt, Community Bank System, Inc. operates more than 215 customer facilities across Upstate New York, Northeastern Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Western Massachusetts, with financial assets values at $14.8 billion.

Brian Crandall

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