First Niagara Financial Group (FNFG) in Buffalo, N.Y., is recycling some of its real estate for the benefit of neighbors.
The $36 billion-asset company said Tuesday it will donate a former branch at 762 Joseph Ave. in Rochester, N.Y., to the Lexington Avenue Federal Credit Union.
The roughly $200,000 gift, which includes title to the property along with furniture and fixtures, will give Lexington Avenue a second office from which to serve members.
First Niagara had considered closing the branch, which it acquired from HSBC in May as part of a $772 million deal for 137 branches , says Suzanne Naspiak-Chapman, its Rochester market executive.
Though First Niagara has another branch roughly a mile and a half away, the bank heard from city officials who hoped to preserve a financial institution within walking distance of residents.
"A group of us got together with the city and talked about the city's needs and our needs," Naspiak-Chapman told American Banker. "From that, this plan emerged and we worked with the city to bring the credit union into the fold and to make it financially attractive for them."
First Niagara, which has 12 locations in Rochester, says it removed all data stored in computers at the branch before turning them over to the credit union, which did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
As part of the donation, the bank will give $10,000 to an association of businesses that has a plan to revitalize the Joseph Avenue district.
City Council President Lovely Warren, whose district includes the building to be donated, praises First Niagara for considering ways to draw a credit union to the site. "They took a second look and they didn't have to," Warren told American Banker. "I think that just shows not only are they good corporate stewards, but they are willing to listen to communities that sometimes feel they don't have a voice."
Naspiak-Chapman says she feels proud to work for a company that is willing to extend itself on behalf of a neighborhood. "We have to make business decisions but that doesn't mean we can't make good things happen in this community," she added.