Growth Goals: Patel and Bodan in CBC Bancorp’s downtown offices.

Growth Goals: Patel and Bodan in CBC Bancorp’s downtown offices. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

CBC Bancorp, the holding company for the newly private Commercial Bank of California, has big growth plans for Los Angeles County.

The Irvine-based bank, which entered the L.A. market and went public in 2016 through a reverse merger with Brentwood-based National Bank of California, was taken private earlier this year by a group of investors, which includes Alex Meruelo, a longtime L.A. investor and entrepreneur. It is now on an ambitious growth track, with expansion already underway in downtown headed by Claudia Bodan, who joined Commercial Bank as executive vice president and market president for Los Angeles County Sept. 17.

Bodan is currently overseeing the buildout of CBC’s Commercial Bank of California L.A. headquarters on the 10th floor of its main office in downtown, located at 915 Wilshire Blvd.

“We already ran out of space,” said Bodan, a former Bank of America Corp. market manager. “I’d expect we’ll become a $100-million-in-assets (branch), three to five years from now.”

Since CBC Bancorp went private in May, the bank has hired 38 people to handle payments and accounting, commercial and small business lending, monitor suspicious money transactions and for business development. Growth has come at such a quickened pace that the bank recently signed a lease at 515 S. Flower St., for offices on the 18th and 19th floors. Bodan said more hires are coming.

Commercial Bank has plans over the next year to open offices in Pasadena and San Gabriel. There’s even the possibility, according to Commercial Bank of California Chief Executive Ash Patel, of going into Ontario, considered ground zero for growth in neighboring San Bernardino County, and of major banking rival CVB Financial Corp., parent of Citizens Business Bank.

The Commercial Bank outpost downtown will manage branches in the Fairfax District, Sherman Oaks and Santa Monica.

“We wanted an L.A. County-based bank because of the revitalization going on here, the Staples Center, football. We want this to be a SoCal bank,” Patel said.

L.A. aspirations

Meruelo, who has a 90 percent stake in CBC Bancorp, also owns an empire of construction companies, real estate, Spanish-language radio and television stations, and hotels and casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. Meruelo is the son of Cuban immigrants and got his start three decades ago with a chain of La Pizza Loca Inc. restaurants that served mostly Latino neighborhoods.

The other majority owner in the bank is William Lyon, who founded the Orange County homebuilding firm William Lyon Homes. He has a 5 percent position, with others, including Patel, owning the remaining 5 percent.

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