St. Louis Community Credit Union Building New Branch in Benton Park West

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SLCCU - Gravois 2

St. Louis Community Credit Union has broken ground on a new branch in the city’s Benton Park West neighborhood at the corner of Gravois and Oregon Avenues (2830 Gravois). Demolition of two buildings was recently completed and a $1.48M building permit has been issued.

St. Louis Public Radio has a feature article on SLCCU’s expansion into high poverty neighborhoods. Last year the bank opened a new branch on Natural Bridge Avenue on the city’s north side, where a Gateway Bank has closed in 2012. According to the story, Gateway Bank was St. Louis’ first black-owned bank when it opened in 1965. The Natural Bridge location is SLCCU’s thirteenth branch located in a high poverty area, with the Benton Park West location being its fourteenth. $1.3M in New Market Tax Credits were awarded toward to construction of the branch.

SLCCU CEO Patrick Adams told Public Radio, “We look for severely distressed communities, communities that are historically served by the fringe banking element, not mainstream banking. We’re trying to combat payday lending, check cashing, those covert, shadow banking entities that may exist. We want to put mainstream banking in the hands of people who are otherwise underserved.”

A 2012 report by the FDIC revealed that 10% of households in the St. Louis region didn’t use banks. The number was 14% in the city, and 5.5% in St. Louis County (~22,000 households). “Unbanked” is considered to be a household with no checking or savings account at an FDIC insured institution. A larger number are “underbanked”, or have a bank account, but also use payday loan, money orders, and other services. SLCCU aims to fill the geographic gaps in banking services in the city, alleviating “financial services deserts”.

Gravois at Oregon SLCCUGravois at Oregon SLCCU_aerialSLCCU - Gravois 1

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  • Don

    Following the banking crisis of 2008, and the refusal to lend by banks who had received bailouts, I decided I need to bank at a credit union. Keeping my money in my community. Credit Unions, for those who don’t know, are non-profits owned by the ‘members’, ie depositors. I chose St Louis Community Credit Union and this is a perfect example of why. I’m very happy, by the way, with the service I’ve received. Lots of other great and very safe credit unions in our fair city. Everyone should be banking with them.

  • John

    Wouldn’t red brick or earth tones be more appropriate building material for the area? The white stucco looks so stark, if that is indeed what the final building will look like. (?) I envision the exterior to be prone to discoloration in and in need of ongoing maintenance. However, it is terrific to note the community investment in this neighborhood.

  • Daron

    Why the hell do they keep doing this? They lock the front doors and force people to enter from the parking lot. They also insist on some days to only service cars rather than letter people into the building. They’re a horrible partner for urban development.

    • Daron

      letting! Also, why does this rendering not expect people to cross the street? Some minimal thought for pedestrians should take place when ‘community’ institutions plan new construction.

  • Riggle

    Great asset for the neighborhood, but pretty suburban, no worse than what was there. It would be nice to see a bank in an urban setting (like Cherokee st) for this neighborhood.

    • Tim E

      I wonder how much trade off is going into building a cheaper facility, thus the cheaper materials, in order to accomplish their goal of being able to break ground on a better non predatory banking/financial option for the area. Credit unions while offering essentially the same financial services as banks their stated goals are quite different. I think for the most part what they proposed and building reflects the difference
      The flip side, Payday loan place would have slap some paint on the existing building or build an even cheaper place, put up a new sign and then get the neighborhood clients to sign off on 18 to 20% or higher lending percentages. Could argue not the greatest structure but might be a big win for the neighborhood.