Branch Projects
New Alliance Federal Credit Union

The Challenge

Attract new members the best talent with an innovative branch while expanding into a new market.

Project Background

New Alliance Federal Credit Union found it difficult to grow in their existing market as jobs migrated towards the city, taking the younger demographic with them, growth became a challenge. The credit union also sought to adapt to changing market conditions by moving away from traditional branching to a more personal tellerless staffing model to connect. To achieve these goals, they needed to find a location where their new branch could have the biggest impact, so the biggest question became “Where?”

Finding – and Restoring – the Perfect Location

To answer that question, Momentum delivered a comprehensive market study that explored the areas currently served by New Alliance’s branch network and their community charter. The study looked for areas that would effectively drive growth, offer community engagement opportunities, and further expand the credit union’s brand awareness.

The predictive analytics struck gold with a rapidly growing neighborhood a few minutes by car or bicycle to downtown Pittsburgh. The area has a strong presence of tech firms and an exploding population of young professionals in the market for new homes. As a bonus, New Alliance is the only community-based financial institution serving the area, offering residents a fresh alternative to the big banks. Not only that, a historic rowhouse was available right at the intersection recommended by the predictive analytics.

But like the example above, it’s well over a hundred years old. The framing and roof needed to be replaced. Many historical attributes such as a beautiful tin ceiling were beyond recovery. And the few steps above street level made the property inaccessible.

Yet with all of these obstacles, this was still the ideal location and the ideal property for New Alliance’s branch expansion. It’s in a highly walkable neighborhood surrounded by coffee shops, bakeries, and a farmers’ market, and the building and neighborhood reflect the aesthetics and values of the members the credit union hopes to attract.

So we came up with a plan using the latest in construction technology and practices.

The biggest challenge was lowering the floor. Typically, demolition like this requires an excavator. On a project like this, that would mean knocking out a wall and gutting the building. Effectively a teardown that might save the façade.

Instead, we used high pressure water jets to quickly erode concrete that needed to be removed and simply vacuumed away the waste. This was incredibly efficient (albeit a very dirty job) and only required a few hoses to access the site.

Serving the Community

New Alliance and Momentum went all-in on the credit union’s commitment to serving the community when it came to design and function. The branch features a flexible community and incubator space, a room that functions as a community resource, open to small businesses and members of the community for meetings and events.

The new staffing model also revolves around promoting personal connections. This is New Alliance Federal Credit Union’s first tellerless branch, and the design does away with traditional transactional spaces in favor of a more open and welcoming layout that allows staff and members flexibility in how they choose to interact. There is a café-style seating area, counter space with stools, a tech bar and comfortable chairs, all of which provide a more casual setting for more in-depth conversations.

The branch also features a pet watering station (complete with camera and Instagram feed!) and bike rack, making the location accessible residents of the highly walkable neighborhood where cycling and bringing your dog to work are the norm.

Momentum Moment

Lawrenceville is perfect for New Alliance’s new community branch, but the area identified by the market study is in the middle of an incredibly hot real estate market. Working with real estate agents became difficult and properties sold as soon as they came available. Bob Saunders, VP of Strategic Partnerships, kept his ears to the ground and thought outside the box by checking real estate ads on platforms like Zillow. One day the ideal location showed up and Bob quickly contacted the seller and credit union team, and they were able to close on the property right away at an incredible price.

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