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Clairton's last bank officially leaving town

Michael DiVittorio
| Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 5:21 a.m.
The PNC Bank branch near the intersection of Miller and St. Clair avenues in Clairton will close its doors for good today.
The PNC Bank branch near the intersection of Miller and St. Clair avenues in Clairton will close its doors for good today.
The PNC Bank branch near the intersection of Miller and St. Clair avenues in Clairton will close its doors for good today.
CIndy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
The PNC Bank branch near the intersection of Miller and St. Clair avenues in Clairton will close its doors for good today.

The only bank in Clairton will close its doors for good.

PNC Bank spokesperson Marcey Zwiebel confirmed the branch at 571 Miller Ave. will shut down on Friday at 3 p.m.

Zwiebel declined to discuss specific details about that branch regarding the employees and future of the building, which PNC owns. But she said PNC does its best to place employees at other branches, and usually puts the building up for sale.

Accounts are being transferred to the Elizabeth branch at 201 Market St., about three miles from the Clairton site. Customers will have some PNC banking options in Clairton.

“There will be a walk-up deposit-easy ATM at the Livingston Pharmacy, and that's one of the advanced machines where you can deposit checks directly into them,” Zwiebel said. “They're the upgraded machines. There will be a drive-up ATM at the municipal building.”

The pharmacy ATM is in operation now. Projections are that the city hall ATM will be installed by the end of the year.

Mayor Richard Lattanzi expressed frustration over the branch closure.

“It's an unfortunate situation, and it's all about dollars and cents,” he said. “It's a shame that the city of Clairton's being held hostage because we don't generate enough funding for big conglomerates. It's not about having a heart and helping out a community. It's about dollars and cents, and it's frustrating. Frustrating as a mayor and frustrating for a town ... My opinion is we got to bring a supermarket in that's going to have A, a supermarket, B, a bank, and C, maybe a dry cleaners.”PNC cited earlier this year declining foot traffic and a dip in monthly transactions from 8,000 to 4,000 as factors in the decision to close the branch.

Zwiebel said she could not confirm those figures, but said PNC has seen an increase overall in ATM, online and mobile banking.

“They're choosing to use these more convenient channels,” she said. “This change in customer behavior has caused us to do an evaluation of our branch network to ensure that we're continuing to serve customers in the way that they want to be served. The situation in Clairton is not unique, but that's the driving force behind the consolidations that we are going through this year in all 19 states where we have branches and the District of Columbia.”

PNC closed eight other branches in Western Pennsylvania this year — two in downtown Pittsburgh, and one each in Oakland, Aspinwall, Belle Vernon, Hopwood, North Huntingdon Township and Masontown.

Clairton City School District business manager Chuck Lanna said the district had about $3.5 million in PNC Bank as of Thursday, and on average has a monthly balance of approximately $1.5 million.

“We have all our accounts there,” Lanna said. “Come Monday we're going to be doing our business at either the Elizabeth branch or the Pleasant Hills branch. Those are the two closest ones for us. As of today we're going to stay with them until we find a better alternative ... There's no other choice as of this minute.”

Lanna said more time will be required to drive to and from the other branches instead of walking to the city location.

City officials said they've spoken with PNC officials to try to entice them to stay.

“We've met with them, but basically they said the decision's at corporate headquarters and it's a done deal,” Lanna said.

Councilwoman Kathy Tachoir said the city has contacted other banks, including Huntington and First National, about taking over the Clairton location. So far no plans have been announced.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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