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A new bank in Chattanooga has won the OK to put its mark on the city's tallest building as it readies to open its first full-service commercial branch in the city in October.

Reliant Bank, a decade-old bank based in Brentwood, Tennessee, will build out the branch on the ground floor of the 21-story Republic Centre at 633 Chestnut St.

On Thursday, the bank won approval from the city's Form Based Code Committee for a couple of signs on the top of the structure.

Stephanie Reese, a Reliant Bank vice president, said the planned October debut of the branch follows the opening of a loan production office in Chattanooga last year. The full-service branch will be headed by former FSG Bank President Terry Todd.

Rich Allen, properties manager for the Berry & Hunt management company, said Reliant is leasing about 5,600 square feet of space for the branch.

He said that Bank of America had been using that much space for its branch before it moved, though it was leasing a total of about 30,000 square feet.

Reliant wanted the new signs at the top of Republic Centre for visibility from nearby U.S. 27 and other arteries.

Reliant merged with Commerce Union Bank in Gallatin, Tennessee, in 2015 and the bank operates seven bank offices and a loan production office in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

It was started in January 2006 in Middle Tennessee, in part, by a former Chattanooga market president for AmSouth Bank, DeVan Ard.

"Outside of Nashville, I think Chattanooga is one of the best banking markets in the state, and I think we are taking advantage of a good opportunity with Terry to start building a franchise in Chattanooga," Ard said.

Ron DeBerry, who remains as CEO of the parent company Commerce Union Bancshares, also once headed a former Chattanooga bank. DeBerry was president of Commerce Union Bank in Chattanooga from 1986 to 1992, before he moved back to Middle Tennessee and helped start another bank known as Commerce Union in August 2006.

Before joining Reliant Bank, Todd was regional president for FSG Bank in Chattanooga where he was responsible for 12 branches with $270 million in loans and $175 million in deposits. He previously served as business banking manager for SunTrust Bank's Chattanooga region that included 40 plus branches in Chattanooga and other nearby markets.

DeBerry recruited Todd to Chattanooga in 1987 to head the Commerce Union's SBA lending program in Chattanooga.

Reliant will be one of 28 banks operating in Chattanooga. Ard said the ownership changes by four of the city's independent banks over the past couple of years has created new opportunities in the market and he insists that banking remains primarily a relationship business.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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