Center Bancorp (CNBC) of Union, N.J., has taken another step in its plan to bulk up in northern New Jersey.

The $1.5 billion-asset company said Monday that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency had approved an application to open a branch in Englewood, N.J. The branch is the "next step for us in our growth into the attractive Bergen County markets," Anthony C. Weagley, Center's president and chief executive, said in a press release.

Center is in the process of buying Saddle River Valley Bank, which has two branches in the affluent Bergen County. Most of Center's branches are in central New Jersey. The Englewood branch opening and the Saddle River Valley deal would give it three branches in Bergen County.

The planned Englewood branch will focus on private banking and lending services for business customers and professionals.

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