A small group of Reston-area business leaders, bucking the tide of mergers and general consolidation in the banking industry, has organized the first bank to be based in Reston.
The new institution, Vista Federal Savings Bank, opened for business on Sept. 30 in temporary offices, but announced the formal opening last week as part of a major marketing program.
Initially capitalized at $5 million in a private sale of stock to more than 130 investors -- many of them Reston homeowners -- Vista Federal is expected to generate $45 million in new deposits in its first year, bank officials said.
Currently, there are five commercial bank offices and branches of four thrift institutions in Reston or on the outskirts of the 21-year-old burgeoning Northern Virginia community. Organizers of Vista Federal considered it important, however, to establish a local institution as an alternative to those with headquarters in Richmond and elsewhere..
"We selected Reston as Vista Federal's headquarters because of the tremendous growth here, both in terms of the businesses which have located here and the people who call Reston home," said Joseph G. Wolinsky, Vista Federal's chairman and one of its founders.
"We wanted to create a very special type of banking institution for people who live and work in this area, an institution that offers competitive rates and personalized service," added Wolinsky, who is president of Sky Courier Network.
Although Vista Federal was organized to fill the need for a "hometown" bank in Reston, management is projecting growth that will enable it to serve a broader market area. In fact, plans are being developed for a branch to open next year in the general vicinity of Reston.
"We see ourselves as being a principal Dulles-corridor institution," said Gerald P. Chapman, Vista Federal's president and chief executive officer.
Thrift institutions -- savings and loan associations and savings banks -- generally have been operating in an unfavorable environment during the past five years, with many of them crumbling under the weight of high interest rates and low-yielding mortgage loan portfolios, and others subsequently falling victim to bad assets carried on their books.
But organizers of Vista Federal elected to form a savings bank, rather than a commercial bank, Chapman said, "partly because of significant tax advantages to being a thrift institution." Mortgage lending is the primary orientation of most of the bank's organizers, he said.
In the meantime, new powers given to thrift institutions as part of the deregulation process allow them to make commercial loans as well as consumer and residential loans, "and we would like to exploit that," Chapman said.
Like several small banks that have opened in the Washington area recently, Vista Federal's new banking office, scheduled to open in January, will not have teller windows. Customer-service representatives will be at desks to provide personal banking services..