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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Nov. 21, 201904:00 PM EST

Community First Credit Union buys the Diamond-S building in LaVilla

 The Jacksonville-based institution will expand its existing Downtown headquarters.

Community First Credit Union of Florida announced Thursday it bought the Diamond-S building Downtown and will expand its headquarters to the LaVilla structure at 701 W. Adams St.

Community First paid $4.6 million for the two-story, 32,300-square-foot building and parking lot on 1.7 acres at Adams and Jefferson streets.

It bought the property from a group led by Southbelt Park Ltd. of Texas and IGS Diamond S Inc. and Irving G. Snyder Jr. of Jacksonville.

The deed was recorded Thursday with the Duval County Clerk of Courts. NAI Hallmark represented Community First in the deal.

Southbelt paid $4.4 million for the building in 2017.

Jacksonville-based Community First has been headquartered at 637 N. Lee St. in LaVilla since 2002. Property records show the three-story building is 55,054 square feet.

The Diamond-S building previously was the Elkins Building. It is about six blocks from the existing Community First headquarters at Beaver and Lee streets. 

The Diamond-S building at 701 W. Adams St. previously was the Elkins Building

Community First said it is Downtown’s longest continuously operating financial institution and the purchase allows it to continue to invest in the area.

The news release said the acquisition provides an immediate solution to its at-capacity headquarters space and additional walkability for its employees. 

“Repurposing this existing, nearly vacant building makes economic sense for the credit union, which is member owned,” said the release.

The credit union said it estimated the cost of property and a newly constructed building at more than double the cost of renovating and reusing the existing building.

“We anticipate doubling our size in membership and assets during the next decade and this building should meet our future growth needs,” said John Hirabayashi, CEO and president of Community First, in the release.

The organization is using technology and increased efficiency in preparing for a future workforce, he said.

In 2002, Community First’s workforce has increased 80 percent from 188 employees in 2002 to 340 now.

Assets since 2002 have grown 297% from $605 million to $1.8 billion.

The credit union said the growth along with efficiency gains “provided higher quality, higher-wage jobs and returned more value to the credit union’s membership.”

Community First said the West Adams Street building is slated for a major interior and exterior renovation. 

When that is completed, the building will house the expanded headquarters’ administrative and operations offices. TTV Architects is the architect.

Community First has been headquartered Downtown since 1935. 

It said that in 2002, it converted its Main Street Branch to a banking services branch and moved its headquarters to the current location near the LaVilla School of the Arts.

More than 180 Community First employees work in the Lee Street headquarters. The rebranded Community First building will start with about 75 employees and allow for expansion.

Community First Credit Union of Florida is a state-chartered credit union serving anyone who lives or works on the First Coast. 

As one of the 10 largest credit unions in the state, it says it serves more than 144,000 members and has assets of $1.8 billion. 

It has 19 locations. It is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution offering banking, loans, mortgages and investments for consumers

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