July 21, 2024

Valley Opportunity Council, continuing downtown Chicopee investment, buys closed Polish National branch

CHICOPEE — The Valley Opportunity Council — seeking to provide parking for its redevelopment of 30 Center St. — has purchased the former Polish National Credit Union branch at 244 Exchange St. for $418,000.

The sale was recorded at the Hampden County Registry of Deeds Dec. 12.

Polish National Credit Union closed the Exchange Street branch in 2020 as part of its strategic plan. It has two other branches nearby — 46 Main St. and 923 Front St. — and Valley Opportunity Council will continue a lease with the credit union allowing it to keep its smart ATM at 244 Exchange, said Stephen C. Huntley, executive director at Valley Opportunity Council.

“We have been trying to inch-by-inch improve the neighborhood there,” Huntley said.

This is the fourth property Valley Opportunity Council has purchased in the Chicopee Center downtown following problem properties at 30 Center St., The Kendall at 25 Springfield St. and 48 Center St., a building that houses the Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce among other tenants.

Huntley said 30 Center St. does not abut 244 Exchange St. to the rear, but it is very close.

“We don’t want to hurt that neighborhood by taking away parking as we redevelop,” he said.

Purchased by Valley Opportunity Council in 2022 for $1.35 million, 30 Center Street has four apartments now and room for four more. Its three storefronts are rented: Hot Oven Cookies, Moda Mia clothing store for women and Island Spice Restaurant.

As for the bank branch building, which dates from 1971 according to city records, Huntley said Valley Opportunity Council is seeking a new tenant.

The branch office building and its parking lot, both bought by Valley Opportunity Council, total just more than a half-acre of land.

Huntley said the purchase price was funded out of the agency’s reserves.

Also coming soon is Valley Opportunity Council’s project to convert the Belcher School into new apartments.

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