One of Dothan’s largest and emptiest box stores will soon be filled after Five Star Credit Union recently purchased the former Gander Mountain building on Montgomery Highway.
The Dothan-based financial institution completed the purchase for $4 million in May, and officials are reviewing the second draft of floor plans for the credit union’s new headquarters, said Tyler Beck, Five Star senior vice president and chief operating officer. Officials hope to transition into the new building by the second quarter of next year, Beck added.
Credit union leaders began to search for a new home after space at its current North Foster Street headquarters became limited, said Mike Bridges, Five Star’s vice president of marketing and communications.
“We’re a growing credit union,” he said. “We had been (in downtown) for a while. As we opened new branches and expanded a lot of our products and services, we started to see our open area shrink.”
Officials examined options downtown but could not find a suitable area for Five Star’s current needs and its projected growth, Beck said. Though it does not look like a typical financial institution’s headquarters, the former Gander Mountain building became an attractive option due to the available paved parking lot, location and size.
“Even though $4 million may sound like a lot, based on what we’re getting with the buildout of the parking lot, the structure that is already there … we felt like it was a really good deal,” Beck said.
“The difference between banks and credit unions is something you hear all the time,” Bridges added. “Credit unions are different, and that’s another way that you’re going to see that we’re different. We don’t need to look like a bank building.”
Beck noted officials want to incorporate the open-air nature of the building into the interior design of the building. Bridges added the spacious area will allow departments to expand and be grouped in ways that improve the credit union’s efficiency.
Five Star will benefit from the space in one other way – branding. Beck said Five Star’s perception in the public eye grew when the institution recently opened two more branches in Dothan and another in Blakely, Georgia, and that will only improve with the relocation to a more visible area.
“Prior to us building these new branches, people didn’t know we were headquartered here. I think the new headquarters will give us a great presence,” he said.
While the headquarters will move, Five Star will maintain a branch at the North Foster Street location – showing its commitment to the downtown area, Bridges said.