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Last bank to withdraw from Cape Elizabeth

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Last bank to withdraw from Cape Elizabeth

CAPE ELIZABETH — The town's only bank will be closing by the end of the year.

KeyBank, which has served Cape Elizabeth for nearly 20 years at the intersection of Ocean House, Shore and Scott Dyer roads, will close by Dec. 6. The bank's four employees will be transferred to other area branches, according to KeyBank spokeswoman Therese Myers.

Myers wouldn't divulge a specific reason for the closure, but said a number of factors play into such decisions.

"We certainly look at the traffic patterns in and out of the branch and a variety of other metrics that are proprietary," she said.

The building was built in 1966 as a Casco Northern Bank branch. In 1995, KeyBank purchased 21 Casco Northern locations, including the one in Cape Elizabeth. So far, there are no definitive plans for the single-level, brick structure with a drive-through window.

"Our plan is to sell the building, but I don't have additional details right now as we're focused on working with our clients on the consolidation," Myers said.

KeyBank will be the second bank in recent years to pull out of Cape Elizabeth. In 2009, Bank of America closed its branch at 329 Ocean House Road.

Town Councilor Jamie Wagner – a member of the Town Center Plan Committee, and owner of The Local Buzz cafe – said the impact of having no banks in town could be significant.

"It's pretty dramatic," he said. "In my estimation, most towns, even towns smaller than Cape Elizabeth, typically have a bank. We had two banks in town, now we're down to zero."

Still, it remains to be seen whether the closure is a setback for the town center or an opportunity. The property is in the heart of the town, an area that the Town Center Plan Committee seeks to nurture.

"A person that's interested in taking a fresh look at the town center may see it as an opportunity," Wagner said. "There's very limited commercial space in Cape Elizabeth. Right now there are no other vacancies."

The ad hoc committee was formed in February and charged with reviewing existing conditions in the town center and articulating a vision for downtown that is business- and pedestrian-friendly. The committee's recommendations are due to the Town Council by the end of the year.

The committee includes two municipal planners, a developer and two lawyers, but Wagner thinks the board could use a broader base of experience.

"What we're lacking on that committee are people with an architectural background ... someone who can come up with a vision to make it pedestrian-friendly and attractive," he said.

In addition to the KeyBank property, the town center includes a vacant lot and town-owned property that is ripe for development if an appropriate vision can be developed and gain traction, Wagner said.

"It's a large order to figure out how to build a downtown from scratch, but it's worth the effort to see whether or not we can visualize it and see if there's any way to realize it," he said.

KeyBank customers whose accounts originated at the Cape Elizabeth branch will have their accounts transferred to the office at 25 Market St., South Portland.

Cape Elizabeth resident Ida Macleod, who was at KeyBank on Wednesday, said she can't predict whether the bank's withdrawal from Cape Elizabeth will impact the town center, but she's sure it will have a personal impact.

"I just think it's terrible," she said.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.