In the coming years, easy access to cash downtown may become available for Binghamton University students. A new development is currently being planned on Court Street, and it could include a new branch of the Visions Federal Credit Union.
The development site, located on the corner of Court Street and State Street, is located close to many bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues that are popular among BU students. Visions Federal Credit Union currently has two branches near Downtown Binghamton — on Upper Court Street and in the Metrocenter. In addition, Visions maintains a presence on campus, with a branch and ATM located inside the University Union.
Mark Yonaty, owner of M.B. Yonaty Development in the greater Binghamton area, has been working on the project for several years. Yonaty spoke highly of Visions’ involvement with the student community.
“Visions Federal Credit Union is a community-based credit union [and] they have a branch on campus as well,” Yonaty wrote in email. “Visions is a huge supporter of the University, the community and a great option for students to do their banking locally while they are here attending school. Visions is also growing in other markets so it can be a permanent banking even after leaving the area.”
Yonaty has plans for a multipurpose building at the site, which would also feature apartment housing.
“Our hope is that Visions Federal Credit Union will be our anchor tenant on the ground floor with five luxury apartments on the second floor,” Yonaty wrote. “This particular location is the busiest intersection in Downtown Binghamton with great visibility. In my opinion this is the best location in Downtown Binghamton.”
Yonaty said the development has been delayed several times, and he hopes construction will begin during this summer.
As for Visions Federal Credit Union itself, the credit union denied having plans for a new location downtown. Mandy DeHate, assistant vice president of marketing at Visions Federal Credit Union, instead noted the credit union’s current presence in the area.
“Visions Federal Credit Union has no plans for additional locations in the Downtown Binghamton area at this time,” DeHate wrote in an email. “Our Upper Court [Street] and Metrocenter locations are available to serve the financial needs of students and the community downtown.”
DeHate’s statement was also confirmed by Tim Strong, public relations and community engagement manager at Visions Federal Credit Union.
Despite these comments, Yonaty asserted that Visions Federal Credit Union’s denial is a matter of legal technicality. He said he still believes the branch on State Street will become a reality.
“Obviously, nobody expected the [COVID-19] pandemic, and now it’s just a matter of working through some things,” Yonaty said. “We just have to come to terms with everything on both sides.”
Some students are looking forward to the possibility of having a Visions Federal Credit Union branch in the heart of Downtown Binghamton.
Daniel Shulman, a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience, said some students may benefit from the project.
“A lot of BU students use Visions when they live at [BU],” Shulman wrote in an email. “Opening [another] Visions branch downtown feels like it’s been a long time coming. Having access to quick cash would surely help the students that visit the bars in the area.”
However, Shulman said he wondered if the site might be better used for a different type of development.
“Downtown Binghamton is a major food desert,” Shulman wrote. “With no grocery stores nearby, residents have to rely on a car if [they] want healthy, affordable and nutritious food. That location could be used better as a grocery store.”
Alex Lewyn, a junior majoring in economics, said the location could offer students who already bank with Visions Federal Credit Union more flexibility and savings on ATM fees.
“There are a lot of students who use Visions, so more locations couldn’t hurt,” Lewyn wrote in an email. “[It] gives those people more places to bank around Binghamton. When you take money from an ATM not affiliated with your bank, there is typically a surcharge. I feel that being able to take out money without that surcharge can only be a benefit. Someone could always find a better idea for what to construct. However, like I said prior, because many students use Visions, I think it would be a solid idea because that will have some benefit for society.”