Community Bank project near a wrap

Community Bank expects to polish off work on its new home in College Place next month.

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COLLEGE PLACE -- Community Bank is putting the final touches on its nearly $3.5 million administrative office building on Commercial Drive.

Construction of the 21,000-square-foot, three-story building, the first major development on the new roadway off Myra Road along State Route 125, is slated for completion next month.

Community Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Moran said this morning the cold weather set the project back slightly from its original completion goal of late 2010. Finish work on the interior of the building, 1288 S.E. Commercial Drive, is all that remains, he said.

Once that's done, several departments and administrative functions will begin transitioning to the new space in spring and early summer. Bank operators plan to take as much time as necessary for a smooth changeover to the new facility before the branch and customer lobby open to the public later this year. In the meantime, a drive-up ATM will be made available for customer convenience this spring.

Joseph, Ore.,-based Community Bank has self-financed the construction project. According to permit records at the College Place Community Development Department, the building has an estimated construction value of $3.4 million.

The new building represents both a consolidation and expansion of the company in the Walla Walla Valley. The new building will bring about 20 to 30 employees under one roof over the course of this year in what will serve as the central hub of its local operations. Those moves will allow the bank to close the doors on some of its smaller branches scattered throughout the area.

The bank will occupy the first and third floors of the building. A portion of the second story will be available for lease in 2012. Moran said if a possible lessee comes forward before then, the bank would entertain a proposal. However, the company is not planning to actively market the property until it completes its own transition.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.


On the move

Community Bank has announced its facilities plan through the transition to its new home. Here's what's expected at its branches throughout the Valley:

Downtown Walla Walla branch, 28 E. Alder St.: The formerly leased building was bought by Community Bank at the end of 2010 and will continue to serve as a branch. A series of improvements is planned for the property, including a new ATM and other improvements to enhance services over the next six to nine months.

Eastgate branch, 420 Wellington Ave.: Though closed to the public in the middle of 2010, the branch has continued to serve as a base for several employees, including two loan officers. In March, the facility will be officially closed. All employees there will be moved to College Place.

Downtown Walla Walla administration branch, 7 S. First Ave.: Leased as a base for administrative employees, the space will be vacated in March. All employees from that office will be moved to College Place.

Milton-Freewater branch, 13 N.E. Fifth Ave.: The branch will continue to operate without disruption to customers. However, several administrative employees from the bank's Mortgage Department will move to College Place.

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