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Martindale-Brightwood bank branch scheduled to close

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After banking at 2435 N. Sherman Drive for 35 years, Nathan Oatts is considering moving to a different bank after learning PNC Financial Services will close the branch in November. The closing will leave not only Oatts and his employees with few banking options nearby, but many in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood will be affected as well. 

“Having it right here was very convenient,” Oatts, the owner of Oatts Trucking, said. “We’re not even two blocks away. We have about 30 employees. A lot of them have bank accounts here, and they’re disappointed about it, so it’s very inconvenient.”

The closing is especially troublesome as PNC was the last remaining financial institution in the area. The Sherman Drive location’s last day of operation will be Nov. 15. The closest branch for customers will be the Linwood Square PNC at 4355 E. 10th St. The move means there won’t be any banks in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood.

The ATM will still be available. The transition will be automatic and won’t affect accounts and debit and credit cards of customers who frequented the Sherman Drive location. However, those using safe deposit boxes must remove the contents by 5 p.m. Nov. 8. The bank will send clients information on how to transfer items to another PNC branch. For the inconvenience, PNC will provide a year of free rent for a similar size safe deposit box. 

Marcey Zwiebel, a spokesperson for PNC, said, while PNC cannot give information on why the Sherman Drive branch will close, the closing is part of a banking trend as online banking options allow people to bank anywhere and make fewer visits to physical locations, causing banks nationwide to consolidate branches.

“The things customers are going into a branch to do are changing pretty significantly, so we have been making adjustments in order to continue to meet customers where they want to be met and how they want to be met,” Zwiebel said. 

Kim Saxton, an Indiana University Kelley School of Business clinical professor of marketing, said a lack of access to banking is a problem in Indianapolis. 

“Buying power, getting off of any kind of public support, maintaining a job, all of those things are in jeopardy when you don’t have access to financial resources,” Saxton said.

The departure of the bank from the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood causes James Wilson, founder of Circle Up Indy, to worry about the ripple effects of not having a local bank in the area. He believes if banks leave then more predatory financial institutions such as payday loans or check cashing businesses will fill the void.

“We’re trying to get rid of all the liquor stores on every corner,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to get rid of all these institutions that come in and predatory lend or bring services that are not beneficial to the community.” 

Wilson’s fear isn’t without merit.

A reliance on payday loan companies instead of banks could be harmful to residents in the neighborhood because interest rates can be as high as 20%, Saxton said. Payday loan interest rates are frequently higher than credit card rates, meaning residents will have to pay more to have access to cash, she added.

“It dramatically decreases your ability to afford anything,” Saxton said. “If you are already working multiple jobs and can barely afford rent, and if you then have to give up an extra percent simply to access cash, it further constrains the ability to have housing, to provide for your family and to not starve.”

The distance between the Sherman Drive and Linwood Square locations is two miles. The closest non-PNC financial institutions are the Chase Bank, 4710 E. 10th St., and a Financial Health Federal Credit Union, 2401 E. 10th St. — neither are in the Martindale-Brightwood area. As someone with a car, PNC customer Elizabeth Simon is not worried about the distance to the Linwood location, but she is concerned about senior citizens who lack transportation and may have trouble using banking apps.

“I wish they wouldn’t move it because there’s so many elderly people,” Simon said. “Not having transportation, this was the closest place for them to come. Going to Linwood or even Glendale is going to be pretty hard for them.”

Zwiebel said PNC representatives are available to help customers though the transition. They can teach how to use banking apps and answer general questions. Customers can reach out to PNC via webchat on the bank’s website, visit a branch or call customer care at 888-762-2265. 

PNC will also participate in two community conversation sessions Sept. 12 and 13 at Edna Martin Christian Center. During the conversation local residents and representatives from PNC will discuss how a lack of financial institutions impacts Black communities and what PNC and neighborhood residents should do next. Tysha Sellers, executive director of Edna Martin Christian Center, hopes the sessions will reveal ways PNC can continue a relationship within the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood and how the residents can find new financial resources. 

“There is one bank, the only bank within the area, that is closing, but this is a larger conversation about financial institutions not being in communities of color, and what do we do now,” Sellers said. 

Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.

Attend the community conversation

To share your thoughts about the PNC location closing and learn about what to do next, attend the community conversation sessions at 6 p.m. Sept.12 and noon Sept. 13 at the Edna Martin Christian Center, 2605 E. 25th St.

Contact PNC

To inquire about the consolidation, visit pnc.com, call 888-762-2265 or visit in person at 2435 N. Sherman Drive or 4355 E. 10th St.

Even though the PNC Financial Services location on 2435 N. Sherman Drive will close at 3 p.m. Nov. 15, its ATM will still be available for customers. (Photo/Ben Lashar)

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