MSUFCU Seeks to Demolish and Reconstruct Northside Drive-Thru

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

The ATM drive-through near MSUFCU's headquarters in a photo taken in June 2021.

In its latest round of plans for a new branch design, MSUFCU is seeking permission from the City of East Lansing to demolish and reconstruct the drive-thru branch located at the intersection of Coolidge and West roads on the site of MSUFCU’s headquarters.

The matter came before Planning Commission on May 26 and will come again this week, June 9, when the Commission will likely vote on whether to recommend the plan to City Council (Council gets the final say.) Most of the Planning Commission’s unusually short meeting on May 26 was spent previewing the application for this site plan and Special Use Permit.

The new facility would alter the drive-through arrangement. The existing structure offers four lanes for live assistance and two for ATM usage, for a total of six lanes. The new setup would decrease the total number of lanes to five, but all would provide both live bank assistance (during business hours) and access to ATMs. Each lane would have enough room for four cars to be in line.

The other significant change is that the new branch building would house the in-person services currently offered in the first floor of the nearby headquarters building.

Explanation of proposed site plan from MSUFCU, showing a new drive-through and branch design at the intersection of Coolidge and West Roads, near the credit union’s headquarters.

The new building would be a one-floor structure totaling about 9,936 square feet. The pavilion for the drive-through lanes is estimated to come to 1,993 square feet. 

According to the staff report on the request, eleven employees are expected to be working during normal operation hours. The compiled report indicates that, if approvals are obtained, construction would begin in August of 2021 and be anticipated to take nine to ten months.

At the May 26 meeting, Commissioner John Cahill asked why a Special Use Permit (SUP) is required from the City of East Lansing for the project to go forward. In response, Darcy Schmitt, senior planner for the City, said it is because the drive-through lanes would be relocated.

At the public hearing held at the May 26 meeting, Kathleen Buck represented MSUFCU and provided an overview of the construction plans and shared additional details. She told the Commission that the updated branch would enhance membership experience and provide updated technology. 

Buck said the final product would look similar to existing branches in Berkley, Michigan, and Clarkston, Michigan.

One parking spot will be eliminated, but 36 will be offered, according to Buck, above the required 23 spots according to the zoning code. Some of the existing trees will be maintained, and for those that have to be removed, new trees and plants of other species will be planted. 

Buck told the Planning Commission that the project site is very “landscaping rich” and the building design reflects the landscaping scheme.

Commissioner Chris Wolf raised questions about whether trees will block the sight lines of pedestrians or vehicle drivers, particularly around the parking lot. The architect was in attendance and replied that the trees around the inner corners of the parking lot are planned at 5.5 feet tall and will not blind pedestrians or vehicles.

Other than the MSUFCU representatives, no members of the public attended the hearing. 

Assuming the project is approved, ATM access will remain open during the construction, and the rebuilt branch is expected to operate from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.

To watch the Planning Commission meeting on June 9 at 7 p.m., or to call in to comment, go to the City’s dedicated portal page for the meeting.

At the May 26 meeting, Commissioners were advised that City Hall staff will be headed back to their offices, but no timeline was provided for when the Planning Commission will resume in-person meetings. Commissioners also briefly discussed state legislation that, if passed, would outlaw East Lansing’s rental restriction overlay districts.

Find all of ELi’s reporting on development projects here.

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