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News Now

CU System
CU fills void in area with donated branch
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (1/25/13)--A Rochester, N.Y., neighborhood at risk of losing its only convenient financial institution will have services after all, thanks to Lexington Avenue FCU stepping in to fill that need.

The $18 million asset credit union became the solution after the city sought to preserve financial services in the underserved area after learning a bank would close its branch there. And in a new twist, the bank closing the branch donated that same brick and mortar to the credit union.

The credit union received a former HSBC branch from First Niagara Financial Group Inc. after the city met with First Niagara to express concern about the branch's closure. The nearest branch is about 1 1/2 miles away on the other side of the Genesee River, and it would take customers two bus rides each way to conduct their financial business, the city said.

Forty percent of the neighborhood people don't have their own transportation, Charles Casaceli, CEO of Lexington Avenue FCU, told the Democrat & Chronicle (Jan. 17).

First Niagara had acquired the building when it purchased the upstate New York branches of HSBC last spring. HSBC sold the branches to competing banks as part of a federal anti-trust requirement.

The new branch, to open in March, will be the credit union's second branch, said Casaceli.

"When First Niagara and the City Council approached us, we saw this as an excellent opportunity for government, business and not-for-profit to do something with the best of intentions for Rochesterians in mind," said Casaceli.

It was the first time the bank had ever worked with a credit union, said Suzanne Nasipak-Chapman, the bank's Rochester marketing executive. "We couldn't find an example of any other agreement" similar to this one, she told News Now. "Often there is more than one answer to a problem in any given situation. This was for the good of all parties concerned."

The donation, valued at about $200,000, includes the property title and all the building's contents, technology and furniture (Globe Newswire Jan. 15).
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