Bank may become new tenant at Ninth and Rose

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Sterling Savings Bank is apparently planning a new Walla Walla branch at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Rose Street.

The Spokane-based bank, which operates branches in Walla Walla, College Place and Dayton, has posted signs at the high-profile corner indicating a new branch is coming soon.

Whether the branch represents an expansion or relocation was not immediately clear this morning. The company's corporate spokeswoman was not available by deadline.

The new tenant fills one of numerous vacancies at the retail property, which was developed in 2008 as a strip center but has never had more than a couple of tenants at a time. Only one tenant currently occupies space there -- Certified Hearing Services.

The move by Sterling could also be a sign of the company's strengthened capital position after regulatory action more than a year ago. The bank had been issued a cease-and-desist order in October 2009 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Washington Department of Financial Institutions after huge losses on construction and real estate loans.

The order was lifted last fall after Sterling arranged $730 million in new investment, one of several moves reportedly intended to bring the bank back into compliance with capital requirements.

According to Sterling's website, the 28-year-old state-chartered commercial bank has assets of more than $10 billion and employs more than 2,500 people at 178 branches in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and California.

Walla Walla Clothing Co. is preparing for spring with a retail celebration this weekend.

The downtown apparel store will host its annual Spring Extravaganza on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Complimentary mini-pedicures will be available to prepare for open-toe season. Spring sandals will be 10 percent off as part of the event. A 10 percent discount will also be offered on all denim, denim crops and shorts and Michael Stars and Three Dots tees

The discounts will be offered Saturday only at 103 E. Main St. Free gifts and drawings for shoes, tees and denim will be part of the celebration. For more details, call 525-4783.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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