A Massachusetts thrift seeking a link to regional developers-and a regional identity-doubled its construction portfolio by taking advantage of another bank's takeover.

MetroWest Bank, until recently known as Framingham Savings Bank, this month bought a $24.5 million construction loan portfolio from the former Co-operative Bank of Concord, Mass. UST Corp., a Boston-based holding company, had bought Co-operative Jan. 3.

Buying Co-operative's construction loans is part of MetroWest's strategy to move away from its past as a traditional thrift and delve deeper into commercial lending.

"We're a small regional bank, and it really is a regional portfolio," said John J. McArdle 3d, president and chief executive officer of MetroWest. "We felt it was a good fit to what we're trying to do with the bank."

Along with the loan portfolio, MetroWest also hired James K. LaVoie, vice president of commercial lending at Co-operative, who had managed the portfolio.

Mr. McArdle said his thrift, which has $523 million of assets, is going after developers who prefer a community bank.

"The developers like to have access to decision-makers," he said.

But changing the thrift's asset mix is only part of MetroWest's plan.

The Framingham-based thrift changed its name to MetroWest this year to try to gain some cachet outside its home city. It wants to expand as a regional, commercial-style bank.

"We don't want to be viewed as a savings bank," Mr. McArdle said. "We're not a savings bank anymore."

However, MetroWest has no immediate plan to convert to a commercial bank charter.

It has turned itself around from substantial losses in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In a conversion, it would have to forfeit tax loss carryforwards-tax credits available because of past losses.

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