Community First wins permit to renovate LaVilla building for its HQ

The city approved the $1.76 million project Friday.

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  • | 3:52 p.m. March 22, 2020
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Community First Credit Union of Florida is proceeding with its headquarters expansion in LaVilla.

The city issued a permit March 20 for Auld & White Constructors LLC to renovate a building at 701 W. Adams St. at a cost of almost $1.76 million.

Chief Operating Officer Sam Inman confirmed the headquarters annex renovation and extension are on track.

Jacksonville-based Community First said in November the West Adams Street building is slated for a major interior and exterior renovation to house the expanded headquarters’ administrative and operations offices.

 TTV Architects is the architect.

Community First said it is Downtown’s longest continuously operating financial institution and has been headquartered there since 1935.

It announced Nov. 21 that it bought what was then called the Diamond-S building to expand its headquarters.

Auld & White Constructors will renovate this building at 701 W. Adams St.
Auld & White Constructors will renovate this building 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. The permit said the renovations apply to a 28,867-square-foot enclosed area.

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 credit union 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.

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

A November 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,” it said.

The credit union said it estimated the cost of buying property and building a new headquarters would be 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.

Community First’s workforce increased from 188 employees in 2002 to 340 as of November. Assets 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.”

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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