Centra plans $18.5 million expansion; credit union tripling headquarters office space

For The Tribune

Centra Credit Union, the state’s fifth-largest, plans to build an $18.5 million corporate headquarters in Columbus, where it was founded nearly 78 years ago.

The credit union plans to construct a three-story, 55,000-square-foot building on a 5-acre lot it owns next to its current headquarters on Columbus’ west side at 3801 Tupelo Drive.

The new headquarters, needed to accommodate the not-for-profit company’s growth and future needs, will house more than 150 employees and will allow consolidation of some back-office operations now conducted in offices Centra has around the city.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

“This is a big step forward for our credit union,” Centra President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Silvers said. “This is home. This is where we grew up. We’re excited to be here and excited to stay.”

The company’s timetable calls for the building design to be completed in September, breaking ground on the new building early next year and moving in during 2020, he said.

Company growth is one of the driving factors for the new headquarters, Silvers said.

In the past 10 years, Centra’s membership has grown from 127,891 to 144,000, its assets have increased from more than $800 million to more than $1.4 billion and the number of employees has grown from more than 260 to more than 350.

“In our industry, growth matters,” Silvers said. “Growth is very important for us.”

The building project, which has been discussed for a few years, will provide Centra more space that it needs for employees.

“We were turning closets into offices,” Silvers said, for example.

Without the expansion, continued growth would have necessitated leasing more space around the community over the next five and 10 years, he said.

“It’s time for us to take this next step,” Silvers said.

The current 25,000-square-foot Tupelo Drive building — of which 17,000 square feet is usable — has served as Centra’s headquarters since July 2013, housing about 60 employees. Previously, it had been the headquarters for Kiel Bros. Oil Co.

Centra has back-office support employees working at a leased location at 2625 Foxpointe Drive, Suite A, for deposit operations; an owned location at 70 Carr Hill Road, its mortgage center; and at some branches.

The credit union has not yet determined what it will do with its Carr Hill Road property when employees are moved from there to the new headquarters, Silvers said.

None of the credit union’s five Columbus branches will close as a result of the changes, he said. There also is a location in Seymour at 520 S. Jackson Park Drive along with standalone drive-up ATMs on the east and west end’s of the city.

About 115 employees will move into the new headquarters when it opens, said Chrissy Bailey, Centra’s vice president of marketing.

Silvers said the new building should accommodate the credit union’s growth for at least another 10 years and that an even longer term strategy exists should future growth necessitate more changes.

Eventually, the current headquarters will be razed to create additional parking, Silvers said.

No incentives, such as tax abatements, are being sought from the city for expansion of its operations, he said. Centra paid 2017 property taxes of $35,835 this year for the current headquarters.

Centra had met with Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop to brief him on their plans.

“We’re really appreciative of Centra as an organization and the growth it has demonstrated over nearly 80 years. They are one more example of a home-grown enterprise that has succeeded by offering good value for its customers,” Lienhoop said.

“We’re very happy to see them continue to expand in our community and grow a community asset,” he said. “The true benefit is to see that growth occur in our community rather than see them grow somewhere else.”

Centra hired Indianapolis-based RATIO Architects to design the headquarters and Columbus-based Force Construction as the general contractor to build it.

The RATIO design chosen for Centra symbolically captures three key elements for the company, Silvers said. They are:

A strong foundation — Indiana limestone will be used for the main floor and partial basement

Transparency — Windows all along the second and third floors will allow people to look into the headquarters and employees to view the outside

Aspirational — Reflecting the company’s growth

“We think the building reflects the architectural heritage in the community,” Silvers said.

Besides housing more employees, the building design will allow for some public use space, he said.

“We will have access for members to use as a public need,” Silvers said. “There’s a need for that kind of space in Columbus today. I hope this helps.”

RATIO used a visioning process over several months that allowed some Centra employees to see examples of modern workspaces and share their thoughts about what would be important to them in the new space, said Brock Roseberry, RATIO’s principal architect on the project.

The Centra team in the visioning process consisted of about 20 people, representing a variety of job functions, said Sharon Taylor, Centra’s assistant vice president of facilities.

What came from that process was the need for flexible space, Taylor said. The new headquarters can accommodate more desk space or collaborative space as needed, she said.

Silvers said the meetings made clear to him the desire for collaborative working, meeting and training space — although there will be some offices because of privacy needs.

“This is more of an open design. We’ll have more rooms for individuals to meet and work together collaboratively and more of an open floor plan,” he said.

Roseberry said the process involved listing goals and determining how to use space and which types of materials to use. The design will be unique to Centra, he said.

“It is very custom to Centra,” Roseberry said. “It’s not representative of anything in Indy or Columbus. It’s custom to the needs Centra has.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”About Centra Credit Union” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Charter granted: Oct. 31, 1940. Eight employees of Cummins Engine Co. founded Cummins Employees Federal Credit Union.

Name changed: To Centra Credit Union in 1995 to reflect company’s growth and diversity.

Headquarters: 3801 Tupelo Drive, Columbus

Members: 144,000

Assets: More than $1.4 billion

Employees: More than 350

Locations: 23 in Indiana, New York and North Carolina

Columbus branches: 2010 W. County Road 450S, 2165 Jonathan Moore Pike, 601 Union St., 1430 N. National Road and 2020 26th St.

Seymour branch: 520 S. Jackson Park Drive along with two standalone drive-up ATMs on each end of the city

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Pull Quote” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

“This is home. This is where we grew up. We’re excited to be here and excited to stay.” 

Centra President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Silvers on headquarters expansion

[sc:pullout-text-end]