People frequently call it the "bank building," even though the landmark location at Modesto's Five Points intersection has been a law office for more than a decade.
Well, general wisdom prevails: It soon will be a bank again.
The Bank of Agriculture & Commerce has leased it and should open for business in April.
"We've been wanting to get a downtown Modesto location for several years," said William Trezza, BAC's chief executive officer.
BAC caters in part to professionals such as lawyers, doctors and accountants and their clients. Trezza said he thinks being downtown will provide better access to such influential customers.
The 1623 J St. location serves as a gateway to downtown for those driving south on McHenry Avenue.
Modesto's Rotary clubs have an electronic billboard there that publicizes upcoming events, and that will remain.
The Stockton-based, privately owned bank has a Modesto branch at 2605 Coffee Road, which it will close once remodeling is complete at the new place.
The Gianelli & Associates law firm owns the building, and some of its attorneys moved into it after Modesto Commerce Bank left a decade ago. Those lawyers moved again last fall, merging into Gianelli's remodeled main office at 1014 16th St.
"We got tired of having people walk in seeking money because they thought we were a bank," quipped Jay Pink, the law firm administrator. Pink said even though glass walls were put in to create lawyers' offices, the building retained its bank safe and night deposit slots.
Now, Modesto's Huff Construction company is removing those walls and reinstalling bank counters. BAC has agreed to lease the 5,000- square-foot facility for at least 10 years.
BAC is owned by the Berberian family, which started the venture in 1965. Most of its 10 branches are in San Joaquin and eastern Contra Costa counties. It opened in Modesto in 1997.
"We're the classic community bank," Trezza said. "We plow money and time back into every community we operate in."
Trezza said BAC competes with big banks by being more hands-on in decision making.
"Our people go to the same Little League games, churches and schools as our clients," Trezza said. "We're the guys they deal with, in good times and in bad times."
Bauer Financial has awarded BAC its "good" rating, giving it 3.5 stars. It listed the bank as having more than $460 million in assets last year.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2196.