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McDonald's to Replace Urban Partnership Bank? Some Neighbors Not Thrilled

By Sam Cholke | February 27, 2014 8:53am
 Urban Partnership Bank will close its South Shore location on March 22.
Urban Partnership Bank will close its South Shore location on March 22.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

SOUTH SHORE — Urban Partnership Bank will leave South Shore on March 22 and neighbors are concerned about developers’ plans to bring in fast food as a replacement.

“When we heard McDonald’s was planned, we were shocked,” said John Lewis, chairman of the trustees at Bryn Mawr Community Church, which is two doors north of the bank at 7054 S. Jeffery Blvd.

Monroe Investment Partners is under contract to buy the bank and its parking lot after Urban Partnership moves out.

At two community meetings, the developers told neighbors they plan to put a fast food restaurant on the parking lot and demolish the main bank to make way for a new one-story retail building. 

A representative from Monroe Investment Partners was not available to comment.

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said McDonald’s was considering a drive-through-only restaurant at the bank parking lot after plans for a location at 71st Street and Paxton Avenue fell through last year.

“The concept of drive-through only did not go over well, which I told them it would not,” Hairston said. “McDonald’s has not said they are coming, they may walk away from the table again.”

Neighbors said they were more enthused when the developer initially proposed Chipotle or Potbelly, but did not want McDonald’s.

“It would not do anything to enhance the community,” Lewis said, adding that the parking lot is currently used for a farmers market in the summer.

The church is holding a meeting at 2 p.m. March 8 at 7008 S. Jeffery Blvd. for residents who want to brainstorm alternatives to present to the developers.

Urban Partnership Bank plans to maintain some presence at the site with an ATM or banking kiosk.

“We thought everyone would benefit if it was redeveloped and some much-needed retail was brought to that location,” said Brian Berg, a spokesman for the bank. “We’re not abandoning the community, but it’s not feasible for us to operate a 40,000-square-foot branch with eight employees.”

Berg said the employees will be moved to other branches in late March. The drive-through was shut down in January after it was damaged by severe winter weather.

He said visits to all Urban Partnership branches have declined by 40 percent and the bank is shifting more attention to mobile and online banking.

The South Shore branch will hold events all day on Saturday for customers who want to learn how to manage their checking and savings accounts online.

“You don’t even need to go to a bank anymore to talk to a mortgage officer,” Berg said.

Urban Partnership, which took over the failed Shorebank in 2010, resumed offering mortgages in January. The bank is currently expanding its small business lending and commercial lending.