Over the past several years we have spent significant resources in building our credit union to include a full complement of products and services to give our members access to over 30,000 surcharge free ATMs, use of their smart phone to make deposits from anywhere that they might find it convenient and to provide loan programs to enhance their life situations.
In 2001 the former Monterey County Employees Credit Union moved from a small house on Capital Street in Salinas to our present facility on West Market Street in front of the train station; the old “Sizzler” as most long term residents refer to our building. In mid-2013 we sold the “Sizzler” site to the Transportation Agency of Monterey County (TAMC) in anticipation of the Right of Way acquisition for the Commuter Rail Service Extension to Monterey County. We had determined it was better to be proactive prior to any possible eminent domain action. Coincidentally, our current location had also come to an end of its usefulness for a variety of reasons. Primary among them are the security of our personnel and members and the degradation of our building due to the appetites of termites.
Our decision for a move to a shared site with the El Gabilan library location at North Main and Navajo Drive was made after considerable research of our credit union’s demographics along with suitable available real estate in the City of Salinas. Demographics show that our membership is spread out fairly equally throughout Salinas, but primarily between North and South. We reviewed purchase and leasing options, locations that would be convenient to our core membership; county employees. For our new building, we reviewed purchase to build, purchase and remodel, lease and remodel and lease to build options. The brick and mortar location had become somewhat less important with the ability of allU.S. to service our members via phone banking, internet banking and smartphone or mobile banking ALL of which we provide 24/7, but we do still pride ourselves on providing excellent personal service and feel that our brick and mortar location is vital so we can continue to offer the well-known personal touch, knowledgeable staff, an inviting building and welcoming lobby that our members enjoy and expect.
Our decision to lease the El Gabilan site was considered after multiple options were reviewed plus additional due diligence considering costs and accessibility in Salinas. The partnership with the city came about when we discovered that they owned the parcel adjacent to the library which many residents know as a Christmas tree lot in season. We began a lengthy negotiation which included an expansion of the library in association with our lease payments. The impact of partnering with the city to improve the library in our community was attractive beyond all other options. We consider education as a core principal of our credit union and members, so this tipped the scale as the “right thing to do” for Salinas and for our credit union members.
Until this transaction was approved at the city council meeting in October we could not announce with 100% certainty that we were moving to this location as permits and land use issues often can destroy even the best intentions. Once the city planning department submitted our package with recommendations to the city council on 9-23, four more weeks passed before the council’s vote could be taken on the El Gabilan location insuring that our “i’s” were dotted and the “t’s” crossed.
What will the new office afford us to do for our membership? We are excited with the new design created with our members needs in the forefront. We will use teller pods that will reduce the chances of robbery to almost zero enhancing our employee’s health and security, an ATM to enhance access to their money 24/7, offices for member privacy, a comfortable lobby to access accounts on multiple PCs or drink a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and contemplate your next financial endeavor in a stress free atmosphere. Our new branch will be sustainable, environmentally friendly and secure, including abundant natural lighting, a meeting place for community groups and organizations, and an expanded parking area without the distractions of our current facility.
How long will it take to get into our new building? Again there are issues related to permits which are outside of our controls, but we are hopeful that by October of 2015 we will be in our new branch. Our architect who specializes in credit union design is located in Wisconsin, but our new facility will be built 100% by local trade people and businesses.
Architects vision and plans are posted in the current lobby some mebers can look forward, along with us, to the new offices. We hope that our members are as excited as we are to welcome allU.S. credit union to the 21st century.
Our old building will be razed by TAMC at a time to be determined, and converted to a parking lot which should help serve the future needs of Salinas and the area and upgrade access to mass transportation in the future.