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United to close Spring Hill office

United Bank will close its office in South Charleston's Spring Hill neighborhood on Dec. 14, said Julie Gurtis, president of United's Charleston region.

The Spring Hill office is at 5151 MacCorkle Ave. S.W., near the foot of the Dunbar Bridge. United and its predecessors have operated a branch at the site since 1975.

Gurtis said, "We looked at branches in close proximity to one another. The Spring Hill branch is exactly one mile from our Dunbar office, across the bridge."

A couple of years ago United had a branch makeover competition, Gurtis said.

"Employees submitted reasons they wanted their branch to have a facelift," she recalled. "The Dunbar branch won. Between the makeover and moving departments to Dunbar, we've probably put north of $200,000 into that office. Over the last three or four months, we've moved two departments to that building. We now have about 50 people in that building, making it a hub for the bank, with a full-service branch and a significant portion of our operations."

The Dunbar office is at 1200 Grosscup Ave.

The Spring Hill branch has five employees. They were told of the decision about a month ago, Gurtis said.

"We have job openings and we hope, depending on where these folks live, to move them to offices that are close to their homes," she said.

Spring Hill is not a full-service branch. For example, it does not have safe deposit boxes.

"It was mainly a teller-transactions branch with a walk-up window and drive-through," Gurtis said. "We have an automated teller machine there that we intend to leave for as long as we're able to.

"When we think about transactions, so many of our customers are heading towards electronic banking," she said. "We see that company-wide. That, plus the proximity to the beautiful office we've made into a hub, it just made sense for us. I think it's really created a buzz and excitement in the Dunbar office. It's good for Dunbar. We're excited about it."

United is sending letters to customers who bank at Spring Hill, advising them of the decision. Also, a team of employees is following up by calling on customers. In addition, "We'll likely plan a welcome reception in our Dunbar office," Gurtis said.

The branch at Spring Hill is the second bank office slated for closure in South Charleston this year. In August, WesBanco Bank Inc. announced it will close its at office at 323 2nd Ave., near the foot of the Central Avenue overpass, on Nov. 9.

When that announcement was made, Brenda Robertson, president of WesBanco's Kanawha Valley Region, said, "It's not just the South Charleston office. As the company expands and goes into other markets, if an office is not profitable and it is not making sense for the bank and its shareholders, then there is consideration given to closing it. The decision is not made lightly."

Robertson noted that a total of six WesBanco offices are closing. The South Charleston branch is the only one in WesBanco's Kanawha Valley market.

Bob Anderson, South Charleston's business recruiter, said, "With all of the new people we've received just recently from the community college - 1,800 students and faculty - and all the other people coming, I hate to see two banks leave South Charleston.

"So many new people are coming here and looking for banks," he said. "I think the existing banks are going to have to go out into the community, especially to the tech park, and install additional automated teller machines."

Although South Charleston is losing two bank offices, it gained an office in 2010 when City National Bank opened a 3,000-square-foot branch at 4110 MacCorkle Ave. S.W., across from Kenna Homes and just east of Thomas Memorial Hospital.

Contact writer George Hohmann at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.

 


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