Artisans' Bank coming to Millville in fall

Millville is getting another bank. After some confusion and the approval of two variances last week, Artisans’ Bank officials expect to begin building the company’s newest branch at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Cedar Drive, adjacent to the Millville Town Center, late this spring or early summer.

In its first-ever meeting, the Millville Board of Adjustments approved two variances to allow Artisans’ to encroach on the front and side setbacks and to begin building. They expect to open by the fall of 2007.

“We do a lot of commercial lending, real estate development lending — and a lot of our customers are migrating into Sussex County,” said Steve Nelson, president and CEO of the New Castle-based bank. “We just think it is going to be a good growth area for us. We want to try to follow the growth.”

Planning for Route 26 expansion, the Delaware Department of Transportation acquired more land on Artisans’ property than officials had originally expected. That resulted in a front setback variance request of 3 feet and an additional side-yard request.

Overhangs, including the drive-through-banking section, and a bay window are encroaching on the front setback but will be built as planned with last Thursday’s approval. Millville’s Board of Adjustment also allowed Artisans’ to encroach on the side setback to add two additional parking spots to bring the total number of spots on the property to 20. That is five less than company standard, Nelson noted, but is “workable” and “not an issue.”

“We don’t want to give the impression that we’re going to have parking shortages, because we won’t,” Nelson said Wednesday. “Without (the additional spots), it would be tight.”

Members of the newly-initiated Board of Adjustments said last week that they approved the variances because they did not adversely impact neighboring properties or any sensitive land. As was seemingly the view of the board, Nelson noted Wednesday that both requests were relatively minor but necessary.

The Millville branch will be the company’s 12th in Delaware, the only state in which they operate, and third in Sussex County. Artisans’ currently operates branches in Rehoboth and Milford. (The Milford location is half in Kent and Sussex counties, Nelson said.)

The bank was founded by a group of investors looking to create a banking location for the working class, according to the company’s Web site. Artisans’ first branch opened in 1861 on Market Street in Wilmington. Company officials are currently building new headquarters in the northern Delaware city.

Visit the Artisans’ Bank Web site at for more information.