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Rogue Credit Union awaits southeast Medford opportunity

Way back in 2009, Rogue Credit Union aspired to build a new branch office on the southeast corner of East Barnett and North Phoenix roads.

Five years later, the credit union is still waiting for city approval of Southeast Plan commercial components so it can begin to transform the former Scottish Rite Temple at the location. Rogue plans to remodel the structure, creating a 1,300-square foot office.

In the interim, Rogue Credit Union has built a new north Medford building on East McAndrews Road, begun an addition to its headquarters complex off Highway 99, and acquired Chetco Credit Union, giving the Medford-based financial institution coastal presence from Bandon to the California border.

"The whole local market and the whole financial services market continues to change," said President and CEO Gene Pelham. "Since we bought the property, our members have continually asked when we are going to build."

Because of its Chetco acquisition, Pelham suggests the credit union's asset growth be an apples-and-oranges comparison. He noted, however, between September 2013 and last month, Rogue assets grew to $914 million, a 7.1 percent gain from $853 million. At the same time, the organization has added more than 8,000 members, pushing the total to 83,577 with checking or savings accounts.

Demographically, the credit union matches the area's overall age breakdown, he said. "But we do a little bit better with younger members less than 25."

"There is considerable demand for us to be up on that corner," Pelham said. "It's a very convenient location for people working at the medical offices who live in Eagle Point and White City. We are just as anxious and are waiting for the approvals to get done so we can start the process."

Before Rogue can roll up its sleeves and go to work across the street from the Larson Creek Shopping Center, it needs zoning switched to community commercial from multifamily residential.

The Planning Commission is slated to discuss the Southeast Commercial Core Master Plan in November. Once approved, RCU is hoping the Medford City Council will give its blessing in December or January. After that, the financial institution can seek the zoning change and apply for building permits. Pelham projects the office to be open sometime between next August and January 2016.

"Our original plan was to build on that corner," Pelham said. "However, we had the financial crisis and the area didn't build out with as many homes quite as quickly. We have the flexibility to see how consumer needs change by using the existing building. Instead of having a bunch of interior walls, we will have movable walls. It's still set up to provide electronic service options, but our members tell us over and over they still want face-to face personalized service."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.