December 30, 2013

Central Star prepares for Thursday opening of its newest branch

Central Star Credit Union will open its newest branch Thursday in east Wichita.

Central Star Credit Union will open its newest branch Thursday in east Wichita.

The new branch will be housed in the former Conway Bank building at 11122 E. Central, northwest of Central and Greenwich.

Central Star president Lee Williams said Monday that her $75 million credit union acquired the building in August and closed on the sale in September.

Because it was already configured as a branch building, Williams said, getting it ready for Central Star was a matter of changing the locks, cleaning, painting and putting up new signs.

“I’ve been through an actual building, a building from the ground up; a major remodeling; and moving into a building that was already a branch,” she said. “I have to tell you, I will choose the latter.”

It will be the credit union’s third location. It has a branch at 101 N. Main in Haysville and has its main office at 9555 Corporate Hills Drive.

Williams said the addition of the Conway building was a strategic move. She said Central Star’s Corporate Hills office likely will be affected by work on East Kellogg, and could be for a number of years.

“They are not necessarily taking any of our property, but they do have an easement to store (construction) equipment,” she said. Williams also anticipates the construction will affect traffic flow to the Corporate Hills office.

“For our business and our membership, that would be really detrimental to us,” she said.

The credit union was originally founded in 1940 to serve employees of Beechcraft. In 2003, it expanded its charter to include others, such as anyone who lived or worked in Butler, Harvey, McPherson, Saline and Sedgwick counties. Still, Williams said, Beechcraft employees make up a significant portion of the credit union’s nearly 9,400 members.

So, having a location near Beechcraft was an important consideration when Central Star leaders considered the effect of Kellogg expansion on the Corporate Hills office.

“It really made sense for us for future growth, but also to lessen the headache for our current membership,” Williams said.

The new branch will include three drive-through teller lanes and, eventually, a drive-up ATM, something the Corporate Hills office doesn’t have. At least initially, the new branch will be open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but it won’t have Saturday hours, unlike the Corporate Hills office.

Longer term, Central Star may have to make a decision about the future of its Corporate Hills office. While it will continue to operate in the near term as a full-service branch, its primary purpose may change over time. “It’s possible we could turn it more into a corporate location for our back-office work,” Williams said. “That would be an option for us, as well.”

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