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DePue buys former bank building

DEPUE — The village of DePue is in the process of purchasing the former bank building that most recently housed a Heartland Bank and Trust Co. branch.

The DePue bank branch closed its doors in September after they reported a decline in customer traffic at the bank location.

Mayor Eric Bryant recently explained the village board agreed to purchase the building from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) at a price of $20,000.

“I think early on it was listed in properties for sale for $65,000. When we called, they reduced the price and asked $40,000. (The village offered) $20,000, and they accepted,” he said. “We made it work. We think we got a great deal, and hopefully, we make good use of it.”

Bryant said it was brought to his attention the FDIC had asked Heartland to remove a large, antique vault from the building when clearing the location. The vault weighs about 9.5 tons and has been a part of the bank building for years, Bryant said.

Bryant said Heartland was looking into tearing out a window to have the vault removed, because it was too large to remove through a doorway.

With fear of damaging the building structure, and the removal of a safe that holds historic value to DePue, Bryant said the village decided to step up and make the purchase.

“We didn’t want to see that safe be taken out of there,” he said.

The village has made attempts to attract a new bank to move into the location. Bryant expressed concerns about the village no longer having a bank in the village.

“It’s been a burden on businesses in town. We’d certainly like to see a local bank move in. We’ve reached out to several banks, and even if it was open for only a couple days a week for residents to make deposits or cash checks, it would be beneficial,” he said. “Whoever would come here would receive a good response and attract a different customer base.”

While the building purchase also included the small space located directly to the left of the former bank, which formally housed the library, Bryant said the village has discussed utilizing the space for a possible future historical museum.

“The 150th anniversary committee is looking for a building to display historic items collected on the village,” Bryant said. “But these are all just thoughts right now.”

If the village is not able to bring in a banking business to the location, Bryant said there has been discussion about moving either the village clerk’s office or police department into the space.

“They are both cramped for space, and both departments really need a vault-type area to secure important documents,” he said.

The final decision on what to utilize the space for is yet to be determined. Currently the village is finalizing paperwork for the purchase and anticipates having full ownership by the end of the year.

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