A long-awaited community development bank for Washington seems likely to open this month.
This week the Federal Reserve Board approved CFBanc Corp.'s application to acquire control of the planned City First Bank of D.C.
And the bank itself will open Thanksgiving week if, as expected, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency approves a charter in time, said Debbi Hurd Baptist, CFBanc Corp.'s president.
City First would operate in the Columbia Heights neighborhood and concentrate on lending to low- and moderate-income residents and the businesses that serve them, said Ms. Baptist, who is also the holding company's and chief executive officer.
"There is a clear need for a bank that focuses on small-business and small loans to the communities of this city," she said.
Others agreed that there would be no lack of business for City First.
"There is no question that the District needs this," said William M. Cunningham, president of Creative Investment Research Inc., a Washington consulting firm. "The amazing thing is that there have not been a number of development banks formed in this city."
Community development banks are funded by for-profit and nonprofit organizations and businesses, including other banks, and often reinvest dividends in the community instead of paying them to shareholders.
City First has some high-profile backers, including Georgetown University and the National Community Investment Fund, a development fund associated with Shorebank Corp. of Chicago. Shorebank is the $750 million- asset parent of community development banks in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Ilwaco, Wash.
It has been a long road for the organizers of City First, which was first planned four years ago as Community First Bank. Ms. Baptist said the delays came as the business plan was reorganized and the necessary funding was sought.
"If you look at all of the people who have worked on this, from the community, from the city, from other organizations, seeing it come together is just phenomenal," she said.
"Starting a new bank is a complicated task," Ms. Baptist said, but starting a community development bank is particularly difficult.