LMCU Branches Into The Mile

November 18, 2006
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GRAND RAPIDS — Although much of the "medical mile" is far from completion, the multiple health care developments being built there and the talk that a new medical school also will be built there was enough to bring the region's largest credit union to

Michigan Street

Lake Michigan Credit Union is getting ready to build a new branch, its 20th, on the southwest corner of

Michigan Street
and
Prospect Avenue NE.
The 4,000-square-foot branch will have five teller stations, two drive-thru lanes, an ATM that can be accessed any time of the day every day, and offices on the second floor.

"Because of all the building and projects that are going on and the new jobs that will be coming to the downtown area, as well as knowing that our history involves servicing those in the health care fields, it just made sense for us to be there," said Julie Blitchok, vice president of operations and marketing for LMCU.

The full-service branch will have offices for loans, investments, insurance and mortgages.

"The (mortgage) department won't be housed there, but we will have an office for a mortgage loan officer, an office for an insurance person, and one for an investment-services person. At our current branches, they share space. Here, they will have separate offices that will be staffed full time," she said.

The mortgage business has grown so steadily for LMCU that it created a separate division called Lake Michigan Home Mortgage. LMHM operates Lake Michigan Sales, a service that helps the credit union's members buy or sell a home.

Members can post their listed homes for free on the service's Web site, get some free pointers on how to sell a house, and receive a packet of financial information on selling or buying. Real estate agents, who are also members, can post their listings on the site for free. LMHM doesn't charge a commission when a house listed on its site sells.

"Our mortgage division has definitely been growing. We have focused on that very much over the last year, specifically. We have introduced numerous products. We've hired many loan officers — we have 14 now — and we've really done well in a market that's not doing so well. We are very pleased with the business that we have been getting," said Blitchok.

According to the National Credit Union Association, LMCU had over $400 million worth of real estate loans on the books at the end of September — a figure that was roughly half of its loan total. It has more than 120,000 members across its four-county service area and $1.1 billion in assets overall.

Lott3/Metz Architecture, a downtown design firm, designed the new branch.

"Our branch is modeled from the unique architecture that will surround it. The glass and metal appointments reflect the state-of-the-art construction that complements the existing buildings and the new medical facilities in the works," said Blitchok.

A general contractor hasn't been selected for the project yet and the site has to be cleared before work can begin. LMCU bought two parcels for the branch so an auto repair shop on Michigan and a house on Prospect have to be razed.

"A timeline hasn't been established yet," said Blitchok of when construction would begin or bids would be requested. "But we have a goal of opening the branch in the fall of next year."    

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