Credit union proposes to build branch office in Shopko parking lot

Shopko's parking lot in Duluth may get smaller as plans move forward to build a Members Cooperative Credit Union branch office on its southeast corner.

Location of proposed credit union branch

Shopko's parking lot in Duluth may get smaller as plans move forward to build a Members Cooperative Credit Union branch office on its southeast corner.

The proposed 5,000-square-foot structure with four drive-through lanes would be built off Central Entrance at Mall Drive, between Shopko and Cub Foods.

It would replace the credit union's current Miller Hill office at the Firestone building across Central Entrance.

The credit union currently is leasing that space, explained Tammy Heikkinen, the credit union's CEO/president.

"We don't own the building," she said. "We don't control aspects of it and don't have drive-up, which is important for a financial institution."


With possible delays factored in, Heikkinen said the new location in the Miller Hill shopping area would open in about a year.

"Right now, parking is difficult at the Firestone building," she said. "I think our members will be able to realize more services, with drive-up and better access."

She said the credit union has been looking for another site for some time. "This one came up. It has more space and room for a drive-up," she said.

According to Heikkinen, the owners -- which include Shopko -- opted to sell that portion of the parking lot. That sale is expected to close in late April, she said.

"We're not done with our due diligence," she said.

Shopko store manager Tony Middlesworth said that part of the parking lot doesn't get used much.

"There are days of major importance, like Black Friday and the holidays, when my normal traffic might go to that point, but the parking lot goes west in front of Petco. So there's room for the new addition. It definitely will not impact us on just a day-to-day basis."

After the Duluth Planning Commission unanimously approved the project's plan review this month, it can now move forward, City Planner Steven Robertson said.


According to the city's staff report, the branch will be a modern facility for new-age banking and financial services and be easily accessible to customers in a desirable shopping district. The building's design by DSGW Architects and its canopy will fit in with other buildings around it, the report said.

The project cost hasn't been tallied yet, Heikkinen said. But she expects the construction to start this summer and be completed by next spring.

The credit union was founded in 1936 as the Cloquet Co-op Credit Union. It started with eight members and $40 and now has 28,000 members and nearly $350 million in assets, according to its website. In 2001, its name was changed to Members Cooperative Credit Union because more than half of its members are now outside the Cloquet area. Besides its Miller Hill office, it has offices in West Duluth, Cloquet, Aitkin and McGregor.

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