The US Bank on Wells Avenue and Vassar Street is scheduled to close in July. The closure is drawing concern among Well Avenue business owners who rely on the bank for their businesses.
“This will be a disservice for the Wells Avenue Business District. It serves a large Latino clientele and many businesses and residents in the area,” said Tom Stewart of the Wells Avenue Merchants. “The reason they give is the branches are too close together. Our accounts will be sent to the downtown branch.”
Stewart said that the closure may also raise legal issues.
“This may breach their compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977,” he added. “This was set up to encourage banks to service low- to middle-income neighborhoods. [The] Wells neighborhood would be without a bank if this happens.”
A US Bank representative said that the decision to close the bank was not taken lightly.
“A number of factors go into the decision, including proximity to other locations. In this instance, the next closest branch is roughly one mile away on East Liberty Street,” said Evan Lapiska, US Bank’s vice president of communications. “U.S. Bank is committed to serving low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, and are confident we are still delivering on this commitment with our remaining branch presence in the area.”
Lapiska said that the Community Reinvestment Act’s requirements still be served because of other area branches.
“While we understand that the closure of this branch may be an inconvenience, we believe the nearby branch on East Liberty Street is well positioned to continue to provide service to the community around the closing location,” he added.
The iconic building was a Catholic church. It was moved in 1948 from the former Stead Army base, where it was used as a chapel. It took three days to move the chapel — the Reno arch had to be dismantled for the move — and its bricks were added after being relocated to Wells Avenue.
The building has also been a bar, restaurant, and savings and loan. It was purchased by US Bank in 1998.
The bank’s representative said that the building will be sold.
“[We] will be maintaining it and eventually marketing it to interest buyers,” Lapiska said.
Stewart is encouraging residents concerned about the closure to contact the bank: 1-888-713-9299 or email your comments to [email protected]