Unforeseen Opportunity Leads Bank to Set Up Shop at 9950 Kingston Pike, Just East of Pellissippi Parkway
When an opportunity – a tremendous opportunity, at that—unexpectedly knocks on your front door, you have to be prepared to seize it! Even if you already have other plans.
That’s precisely the circumstances Mountain Commerce Bank found itself in earlier this year.
A $1.5 billion, state-chartered financial institution headquartered in Knoxville, Mountain Commerce Bank (MCB) serves small- and medium-sized businesses, professionals and individuals in middle and east Tennessee through its six branches across the Volunteer State in Brentwood, Erwin, Johnson City, Knoxville and Unicoi.
Experiencing a sharp growth trajectory—particularly over the last five years—MCB had begun searching for a Knoxville location to construct a brand-new financial center to complement its Bearden headquarters building on the corner of Kingston Pike and Northshore Drive, and to relocate its Cedar Bluff branch, which is currently situated at the intersection of North Cedar Bluff Road and Executive Park Drive.
In fact, after much effort that search had yielded fruit. In 2021, MCB purchased a parcel of land at 303 North Peters Road—a 2.23-acre tract just south of the Cedar Bluff exit off I-40, adjacent to the new Kroger Marketplace. MCB’s initial intent was to break ground in 2023 and open the combined financial center and bank branch by early 2025.
With that aim in mind, the project was moving full-steam ahead last year when word reached MCB President and CEO William E. “Bill” Edwards III that there was another possibility. And it was an intriguing one at that!
“We had already purchased the property on North Peters Road and had begun all the necessary preconstruction planning,” said Edwards, “when we learned that an existing building—a former bank financial center at 9950 Kingston Pike, just east of Pellissippi Parkway and only 3 miles from our current Cedar Bluff location—was vacant and available.”
Suddenly presented with a potential alternative, the MCB team did what you would expect savvy bankers to do—they crunched the numbers. And it turned out that purchasing the building at 9950 Kingston Pike was more advantageous than moving forward with the planned construction on North Cedar Bluff Road.
“After a thorough evaluation, we made the decision to adjust our plans. We purchased the existing structure in August,” Edwards said. “It’s a 37,400-square-foot, three-story building situated on 2.69 acres in a prime location. It has a large atrium, a three-lane drive thru and ample parking. With the necessary regulatory approvals—which were secured in late September—we are confident we can be open for business at the new Kingston Pike location much faster than the anticipated 24 months it would have taken us to complete new construction on North Peters Road.”
Just as importantly, the MCB team calculated that moving forward with the 9950 Kingston Pike property would cost less than building something of comparable size from the ground up. “The negotiated price, as well as the benefit of a move-in ready building, make this purchase a great value for our shareholders, and will provide broader access for our clients,” said Edwards.
Since early August, the MCB team has been working with its architect to incorporate stone to the entrance and the foyer to align the new purchase’s aesthetic with the bank’s Bearden headquarters. Interior upgrades are also planned—specifically, new paint and carpeting—as are the required HVAC, elevator and fire-suppression system inspections. Edwards indicated that it is possible that MCB may lease a portion of the building to other tenants.
Absent any unexpected delays, MCB anticipates a grand opening in mid-2023.
“Introducing our new financial center in Knoxville is an important next step in Mountain Commerce Bank’s long-term plan in Tennessee,” said Edwards. “Being flexible and open-minded on our approach to that milestone will allow us to be up-and-running much more
quickly and at a lower cost. And that translates to enhanced customer-focused services sooner for both our existing and future clients.”