RIVER ROUGE, Mich. - As William T. Johnson drove through dilapidated Detroit-area neighborhoods where he plans to open bank branches next year, he envisioned revitalization amid the boarded-up buildings and rubbish-strewn lots.

"We're not afraid of something that looks ugly or not finished yet," said Mr. Johnson, chairman and co-owner of Omnibanc Corp., River Rouge. "We should be there, because our job is to take the boards down. In fact, it may be to take the buildings down and put new ones up."

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