Properties rezoned to make way for credit union in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 30, 2018

Shutterstock image

ST. CLAIR SHORES — A piece of property along Nine Mile Road may be home to the city’s newest credit union in the next year after City Council approved a rezoning request, a parcel swap and the credit union site plan.

Representatives from Freestar Financial Credit Union, which began as a credit union on Selfridge Air National Guard Base in 1957, came before City Council Jan. 22 to have several pieces of property abutting Nine Mile Road at Alice Street rezoned to allow for a new credit union with a drive-thru, a training facility and parking for both of those as a buffer between Nine Mile Road and the residential neighborhood. 

The rezoned parcels will only ever be allowed to be used for parking, said City Planner Liz Koto. 

John Schwark, chief architect with the Thompson-Phelan Group, said that Freestar Financial officials were looking to create a “home base” for their credit union in St. Clair Shores. The facility would include a full-service branch with about 23 employees, a training facility for Freestar employees that would train up to 70 employees each Wednesday morning and some evenings, and two lanes of drive-up service along Nine Mile Road. 

Although it was challenging to lay out the site given the irregular dimensions of the rezoned parcels, “We feel this is the best layout of the building,” Schwark said. 

“We will be entering from the back parking lot, and to the right is a training center. They have a need to continually train employees, and right now their present facilities don’t have such a space.”

A lending center would also be part of the credit union location. The entire building is planned to be brick, with the Freestar logo on the entrance and black awnings over the windows, he said. 

Schwark asked that St. Clair Shores remove a no-left-turn restriction from Alice Street, as he said the only people who would be turning onto Alice would be residents, but council members said that’s not necessarily the case.

“The residents that live on those streets, they know they can turn left,” said Councilman John Caron. But he said that drivers will use Alice as a cut-through if there is traffic or construction along Nine Mile Road, and that is what the city is trying to prevent with the no-left-turn sign.

“It wouldn’t prevent you getting customers from there,” he said. “That’s just to prevent cut-through traffic through our neighborhoods that we don’t like.” 

Schwark told City Council that the purchase of the property is contingent on Freestar Financial Credit Union receiving all approvals necessary from City Council and the Zoning Board of Appeals. The credit union plans to begin construction in 2019, as it is currently starting construction on a new, smaller branch in Shelby Township.

The city also swapped a small piece of property with the credit union to create a straight property line along Nine Mile Road and get the sidewalks back on city property and not on the company’s land. 

City Council approved all of the rezoning, site plan and property swap requests unanimously.

“We look forward to seeing you get started in 2019,” Mayor Kip Walby said.