First National Rio Grande

A quickly expanding Albuquerque-area bank is making a move in East Downtown.

Officials at First National Rio Grande bank said Thursday it will open a new branch office at 501 Central Ave. NE on a plot that is now the vacant and dilapidated Pop ‘N’ Taco.

The bank expects to be open there in August 2015. Described as a mixed-use bank building, those behind the project said its proximity to Innovate ABQ made it a desirable location. Innovate ABQ is set to rise at the former First Baptist Church site at Central and Broadway Boulevard.

The future of the Pop ‘N’ Taco site at the northeast corner of Central and Edith Boulevard has been in limbo and the subject of much discussion for years. The family that owns the property through a Wells Fargo trust originally approved it for a drive-thru Subway restaurant concept. That idea was met with resistance from different groups and neighborhood associations and was eventually dropped.

First National Rio Grande is expanding its footprint in two other areas of the city too. It announced late last month that it would open a new branch office next March in a 2,400-square-foot space in ABQ Uptown.

The bank has been at work on two large projects at San Felipe Plaza in Old Town too. That is where corporate offices are being built in what was formerly a Western Warehouse and then the offices for Studio Southwest Architects. A branch has also opened near Seasons Rotisserie & Grill and the offices of REA – Real Estate Advisors. That branch was built in the space that was formerly the Melting Pot, which moved to ABQ Uptown.