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Out of the shadows: CFG Bank digs in deep in Baltimore

CFG Bank recently announced plans to move it’s headquarters to 97,000 square feet of leased space at Baltimore Peninsula, formerly known as Port Covington, in Baltimore. (Submitted photo/MAG Partners)

Only a few months ago, CFG Bank probably was best known for being one of Maryland’s larger banks (the fifth largest in the state) and one that specialized in health care and, more recently, cannabis lending.

Not anymore.

In the past few months, the 13-year-old, Baltimore -based CFG has made splashy news (by banking standards) in a couple of ways:

  • CFG reached a deal to earn naming rights for the 60-year-old Baltimore sports and entertainment arena, formerly known as Royal Farms Arena, which is due to reopen in February after an extensive renovation. It is the bank’s first sports sponsorship of any kind.
  • Shortly after, CFG announced plans to move its headquarters to 97,000 square feet of leased space in the Baltimore Peninsula, a much-heralded 235-acre development in Port Covington.

Bank leaders say both moves were a result of CFG’s “robust growth” over the past few years.

Bill Wiedel, CFG Bank CEO, who was born and raised in Baltimore, said it was important for CFG to “support the reinvigoration of Baltimore.” (Submitted photo)

“The growth saw us outstrip our current space,“ said CFG CEO Bill Wiedel. “Given our longstanding commitment to Baltimore City, we had been searching for space downtown prior to the pandemic, which obviously slowed down that effort.

“We feel that the Baltimore Peninsula offers all the amenities that will allow us to create a showcase workplace environment,” added Wiedel, who was born and raised in Baltimore. “And at the same time, we look at it as a way to support the reinvigoration of Baltimore.”

As for the CFG Bank Arena, which in the next few months will host the CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament and concerts by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Anita Baker and Janet Jackson, among others, Wiedel said the venture was a matter of timing, prompted by the bank’s expansive marketing effort to strengthen its name and brand recognition.

But like the move to Baltimore Peninsula, he said, the arena rebranding was more than a business decision.

“We saw it as an opportunity to invest in a part of the city that needs it,” he explained. “We are hoping this will encourage others to invest there as well.”

CFG’s planned move won applause from other companies involved in the Baltimore Peninsula project.

“This lease represents another key milestone toward our broader revitalization efforts in South Baltimore,” said Michael Lohr, managing director for Goldman Sachs Asset Management, one of the project’s investors. Those efforts, he said are meant to “engage the community through job creation and workforce development, in addition to providing access to new attractions and events.”

“It speaks volumes that a company like CFG Bank, a pillar of the Baltimore business community, has selected Baltimore Peninsula for its future home,” said Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, whose Sagamore Ventures is a main force behind the Baltimore Peninsula project. “I look forward to working together to build on our vision of impact at Baltimore Peninsula.”

“Since first introducing CFG Bank to the project, we always thought they would be a great fit, given their aligned entrepreneurial philosophy,” said Mark Weller, founding partner and President of Weller Development Partners, another partner in the project.  “We are so excited to see CFG Bank moving to this new, burgeoning neighborhood.”

Chris Chick, CFG’s bank’s chief operating officer and chief lending officer. (Submitted photo)

When finished, the Baltimore Peninsula redevelopment is expected to include some 14 million square feet of new, mixed use development, 2.5 miles of restored waterfront and 40 acres of parks and green space.

CFG Bank has always done banking differently, said Chris Chick, CFG’s bank’s chief operating officer and chief lending officer.

“Our entrepreneurial approach to banking allows us to serve niche industries, like the cannabis industry, and offer creative solutions to reach client goals,” he said.

Wiedel said no more surprise moves are in the works for his bank, but added: “As with the naming rights opportunity, we are more than willing to quickly adjust our plans to take advantage of market opportunities to further support our team, clients and community.”

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