Today’s news:

Boro banker comes to Bell Blvd.

Pistilli founded the First Central Savings Bank in Whitestone in 1999. Six years and three Queens branches later, the newest arm of the bank is opening Saturday on Bayside's bustling commercial strip at 42-12 Bell Blvd. "We're basically a community bank based in Queens," said Pistilli, who has nearly 20 years' experience in banking and is the chairman and CEO of First Central. After the establishment of the Whitestone headquarters, the bank expanded to locations in Astoria and Ridgewood as well. As a former Bayside resident himself, Pistilli said the decision to open a branch in the area was a natural one based on the area's demographics and economic growth. "It's in our geographical niche," Pistilli said. "It goes well with how the bank is growing. Bell Boulevard seems to be commercially thriving, and there seems to be a lot of new Americans coming into the area, Asians in general as well as existing Bayside residents." The Bayside branch was scheduled to have its grand opening Saturday with raffles and giveaways during the extended operating hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day. First Central Savings Bank is a privately held bank, with 29 shareholders and about $225 million in assets, Pistilli said. The bank's menu of financial services is particularly Queens-friendly with an emphasis on residential and small business lending, according to Pistilli. "We have a very large residential mortgage plan. We invest in co-ops, apartments, houses. We do lots of commercial lending for small businesses," he said. "We're really there to offer high, if not higher, CD rates to the people, and low cost business and mortgage financing. Our costs are not through the roof." And the bank's board of directors is mostly Queens businessmen, he said. Pistilli is also a leading partner in Pistilli Realty, a real estate company based in Astoria. The new Bayside branch will have a full slate of services, including an ATM machine, six tellers, and customer service, Pistilli said. And his expansion plans do not end with the opening of the Bayside location. "We're looking toward being in all five boroughs," he said. In the next three years, he wants to open at least three more branches in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, including one more location in Astoria on Ditmars Boulevard. "What we are is a true community savings bank," he said. "We are a tremendous success because we are a true community retail bank. When regular people need to use a retail bank, they are more and more being pushed to use a big, large commercial bank. Many banks come up with the slogan that 'we want to be your personal bank,' but what that really means is that they want to go deeper into your pocket." Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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