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Cornerstone Community Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union based in Western New York, is leasing a former HSBC Bank branch in Lewiston to open its fifth location in Niagara County.

The Lockport-based member-owned not-for-profit financial institution said it will be opening the new full-service branch location in January at 721 Center St., in the heart of the village, joining the credit union's two existing locations in Lockport and one each in Middleport and North Tonawanda.

Cornerstone said it is leasing the branch from the Eagle Group of Trenton, N.J.

"With the Lewiston branch, we have extended our reach to all four corners of Niagara County, effectively providing more residents with the opportunity to enjoy lower fees and better rates," Cornerstone President and CEO Ann Brittin said in a news release. "By joining an already thriving cultural community, we are committed to serving not only our members, but the area and surrounding neighborhoods of Lewiston as well."

This is the third time the building has been swapped between financial institutions in the past year. It was part of a larger package of 195 branches across upstate New York that HSBC sold in May to Buffalo-based First Niagara Financial Group.

First Niagara, in turn, was then required by the U.S. Justice Department to divest 26 branches in Erie and Niagara counties to Cleveland-based KeyCorp, parent of KeyBank, to avoid antitrust concerns. Key then consolidated this branch with an existing location down the street at 493 Center St.

Under Cornerstone's current community charter, anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Niagara County is eligible to become a member. The credit union offers a full range of low-cost products, including personal and business accounts, credit and debit cards, loans and financial planning. The new branch will include a full-time loan officer.

"Since we are a local credit union, we can offer enhanced service with greater personal attention," Cornerstone Chairman David Nemi said. "We live and work right where our members do and make major decisions on a local level that affect all of us. It's important to keep your money with those you trust, so it's easy to turn to us because we are always vested in the communities we work with."

Founded in 1957 as Unit No. 1 Federal Credit Union, Cornerstone is now the biggest credit union in the region, with more than 46,000 members and over $319 million in assets.


email: jepstein@buffnews.com