Meetinghouse Bank is branching out: Plans to open Roslindale Square office by mid-2013

One of Dorchester’s most deeply-rooted financial institutions is set to expand its footprint in the city of Boston. Meetinghouse Bank, fueled by a first-ever public stock offering that generated millions in new capital, will begin its growth program by opening a new branch location in Roslindale Square by the end of next year’s second quarter.

“Meetinghouse Bank will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2014,” explained president and CEO Anthony A. Paciulli, who has presided over the community bank’s steady rise over the last seven years. “The main reason we went public is to expand our footprint and our customer base in the city of Boston.”

Anthony Paciulli: Meetinghouse Bank President and CEO has led period of growth and civic engagement for bank.Anthony Paciulli: Meetinghouse Bank President and CEO has led period of growth and civic engagement for bank.The stock offering, which was approved by a near-unanimous vote of the bank’s depositors and board members during a meeting at Phillips Old Colony House last September, generated $6.6 million, Paciulli said. All of the public shares— sold at $10 a piece— were purchased by existing Meetinghouse Bank depositors, something that surprised some industry observers, but not Paciulli.

“The economic conditions being what they are, I think some outsiders probably did not think we’d sell out to depositors only and that we would have to open up the sale [to non-depositors]. But, with all the work we’ve done, all the charitable events, I honestly thought we would do what we did.”

Meetinghouse Bank has been scoping out possible locations for a second city branch for the last year. Paciulli engaged a professional firm to conduct a market analysis of the existing market across the city’s neighborhoods then zeroed in on Roslindale as a target.

The bank has since leased ground level space in a new professional building at 4238 Washington Street that has recently opened in the heart of Roslindale Village, just across from Adams Park, the busy green space that is home to many public events, including a popular seasonal Farmers’ Market.

“We’ve liked Roslindale for a while,” said Paciulli. “Based upon our customer base and what our priorities would be in a community we would enter, it is right at the top of the list. It’s vibrant, there’s a tremendous blend of the residential and commercial, with strong neighborhoods abutting the business district. And there’s tremendous foot traffic. There’s lots of opportunity with the growth in that part of the city. Plus they have a strong Main Street group that we intend to be very involved in.”

Paciulli says that the Lower Mills campus of Meetinghouse Bank— which includes two buildings at the corner of Richmond Street and Dorchester Avenue— will house support offices for the new Roslindale branch. Paciulli expects to split his time equally between the two locations.

“Everything at Lower Mills will remain the same to our customer base in terms of the operation of the bank,” said Paciulli, in reference to the new stock arrangement. “There are different reporting issues, but we have the same board of directors, same officers, and we’ll operate the same.”

Paciulli said that the bank has “maximized the Dorchester footprint” but expects to see continued growth at the Lower Mills location in the months to come.

“We’re still growing and projecting growth in 2013,” Paciulli said. “Lower Mills was always a strong area. I think it went through a bit of a transition and now it’s clearly becoming a destination with new restaurants. It’s a very safe and very clean area and the Lower Mills Merchants Association has helped bring that to the table.

“One of the reasons I came here is that it is such a vibrant community and it had a great nucleus that we could grow over the next 10-12 years,” Paciulli said. “We are hoping that Roslindale is the first of at least one, and perhaps two, more branches.”