Fayetteville train bank at end of line, closing next month

The Bank of Fayetteville's train branch is seen Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, at Dickson Street and West Avenue in Fayetteville. A note posted on the door says the branch will permanently close at 5 p.m. Sept. 29. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Stacy Ryburn)
The Bank of Fayetteville's train branch is seen Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023, at Dickson Street and West Avenue in Fayetteville. A note posted on the door says the branch will permanently close at 5 p.m. Sept. 29. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Stacy Ryburn)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The train branch of the Bank of Fayetteville will close permanently at the end of September, according to a note posted on the door.

The note says the "train bank" at the northeast corner of Dickson Street and West Avenue will shut its doors at 5 p.m. Sept. 29. The Bank of Fayetteville is a division of Farmers & Merchants Bank.

"We look forward to serving you at any of our Fayetteville locations," the note says. "In addition to local and online banking, you are able to access your accounts at any Farmers and Merchants Bank or The Bank of Fayetteville branch across the state."

The note directs customers with questions to contact the bank via email at [email protected] or by calling (479) 442-1223.

A two-page document inside the bank includes a letter to customers about the closure from bank President and Chief Executive Officer Brad Chambless. In the letter, Chambless references how the train branch lies within the city's cultural arts corridor, which is in development, known as the Ramble.

"Redevelopment of the train branch site is an important part of the city's plans to increase tourism and provide more amenities for the Fayetteville community," Chambless says in the letter. "We continue to support business development and growth to ensure our city is a desirable place to live and work. We hope you will join us in welcoming this positive change and direction for Fayetteville."

Developers Greg House and Ted Belden's Ramble North, LLC, bought the land the train bank sits on for more than $2.4 million at the end of June, according to Washington County property records online. House and Belden are planning to build a hotel on the property, immediately south of the new 300-space parking deck under construction. The pair own the portion of the lot immediately west, which includes the former train depot and freight buildings. They sold the northern portion of the lot to the city to build the deck.

At a groundbreaking for the deck in January 2022, House said the bank wanted to have a presence within the hotel building, and that the developers and bank leadership were considering options.

The parking deck is scheduled to open to the public in mid-September. It will replace the 290 spaces lost once the parking lot west of the Walton Arts Center becomes the civic plaza of the arts corridor.

The train bank is a vintage passenger car and a former Cotton Belt wooden caboose, still sitting on old railroad tracks, according to RoadsideAmerica.com, an online guide to offbeat tourist attractions. Property records indicate Bank of Fayetteville bought the land for the train branch for $140,000 in 1996.

The letter to customers does not say what will happen to the train once the branch closes.

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