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Alderman, Residents Unhappy with U.S. Bank Decision to Shutter Branch

By Casey Cora | October 17, 2012 12:19pm
 The U.S. Bank branch at 4909 W. Division St. in Austin will close Nov. 16.
The U.S. Bank branch at 4909 W. Division St. in Austin will close Nov. 16.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

AUSTIN — U.S. Bank's announcement that it will close its full-service branch at 4909 W. Division is being called "community disinvestment" by the local alderman and residents are signing a petition in protest.

A U.S. Bank spokeswoman said the branch would close Nov. 16. The company will keep an ATM at the location and provide shuttle service "two or three times a month for seniors" to nearby branches, including 5201 W. Madison St. and 6011 North Ave. 

Alderman Emma Mitts (37th) said the news came as a surprise to the neighborhood, despite the company's assurance it notified customers and community groups including the Woodstock Institute and Bethel New Life about the change.

“I had to go and find them in order to learn they were closing their branch,” Mitts said.

Mitts called the bank's decision a "prime example of community disinvestment" and a "major lack of respect" for customers at the branch, located in a six-story building that also housed health care facilities used by seniors and families.

Nicole Garrison-Sprenger, bank spokeswoman, said the company notified employees and customers about the closure back in August. She added that the Minneapolis-based company made lending and investments in affordable housing a priority, citing $44 million in community development loans issued throughout the Chicago area and $153 million in investments that "encourage self-sufficiency and economic development."

"That's just how we do business," she said. 

Community groups rallied on Saturday outside the bank and circulated a petition to protest the closing, which community activist Elce Redmond said was signed by "a couple hundred" people. The petition originated with the Northwest Austin Council and the South Austin Coalition; it's being sent to U.S. Bancorp.

Redmond said people were angry at the weekend protest.

"Anger at the fact that the sixth largest bank in the United States is closing a facility that's been used for a long time, primarily by senior citizens...Residents are saying that will be a strain on them and an inconvenience on them," he said.

As for the employees for the soon-to-be-shuttered Division Street branch, Garrison-Sprenger said they would be relocated to another branch. The decision to close, she said, was to transfer business to the nearby full-service branches, where it could "serve the customers in any way they might possibly need." 

A statement issued by U.S. Bank says the company "will continue to look for new opportunities to grow and expand, including within the Austin community."

U.S. Bank operates 88 branches and employs more than 1,600 people in the Chicago area.