First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union will centralize its corporate operations into a new office building near the Movie Tavern at the Trexler Business Center in Lower Macungie Township.
The growing financial institution also plans to open its 12th branch at the Hamilton Boulevard commerce center, which is a Jaindl Land Co. development.
About 140 First Commonwealth full- and part-time employees will be based on the top two floors of an 81,000-square-foot building and in an adjacent 5,000-square-foot branch. The Lower Macungie Township Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the plan Thursday night.
Tricia C. Szurgot, chief marketing and experience officer, said the move comes as First Commonwealth has increased its back office and support staff over the past two years.
During this time it opened four “social banking”-style branches featuring financial education centers and Interactive Transaction Machines — ATMs that connect customers with bankers via video. It’s working toward offering 24/7 video associate services. The new headquarters will enable the credit union to bring under one roof staff currently split between a corporate office on Broadhead Road in Hanover Township, Northampton County, and an office on Union Boulevard in Allentown. It also positions the bank to build its presence in the western end of the region.
“The headquarters allows us to continue to expand the offering of quality financial services to credit union members and show our commitment to the Lehigh Valley community,” Szurgot said.
First Commonwealth hopes to complete construction by the end of 2020, with a phased move-in beginning early 2021, though Szurgot said that’s subject to change. The bank branch next door will likely open sooner.
Ron W. Beitler, president of the Lower Macungie Board of Commissioners, said the headquarters is a welcome addition to the larger development, which originally planned for a multi-unit retail building in that space.
John P. Miller, chief operating officer at First Commonwealth, led a project team that worked closely with Lower Macungie officials to swiftly turn around an attractive plan.
Beitler called the credit union a “community-conscientious partner” that has bought into the township’s larger vision for Hamilton Boulevard as a central employment corridor with a Main Street feel.
“Planning we’ve done over the last five years has been in part to land more high-value large employers like this,” he said.
The ground floor of the three-story building, which First Commonwealth will own, allows for 10,400 square feet of retail space. The adjacent bank branch will also have a second floor for office space.
The Trexler Business Center plan calls for two other buildings hosting retail or restaurant businesses. David Jaindl said Thursday he anticipates securing commitments in 2019.
First Commonwealth is a “perfect fit” for the center, Jaindl added, noting its peak traffic patterns won’t coincide with Movie Tavern’s.
First Commonwealth has $720 million in assets and nine locations across the Greater Lehigh Valley, including branches in Kutztown and Lehighton. An Emmaus branch is under construction, and a Whitehall branch may open by the end of 2019, Szurgot said.
The credit union has more than 62,000 members and 1,300 member companies in the Lehigh Valley area. Large employers and organizations include Olympus, B. Braun Medical, East Penn Manufacturing and, most recently, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Andrew Wagaman, The Morning Call