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Location, location, location: Santa Cruz County Bank snags downtown spot

October 19, 2007

By Jondi Gumz - Santa Cruz Sentinel

Three-year-old Santa Cruz County Bank is working hard to stand out in a highly competitive industry. With its regular exhibits and receptions, the locally owned bank has a reputation for supporting the arts.

Now the bank, lauded this week by the city Arts Commission, plans to move its office from 325 Soquel Ave. to downtown and remodel the space with a "green" design. The bank has leased 720 Front St., formerly occupied by Coast Commercial Bank and currently vacant. The one-story building, in the Riverwalk Plaza, sits between Cafe Mare and Trader Joe's.

"It's a prime location," said Dennis Belisle of Greater Bay Bancorp, Coast's parent company, which gave up the space in May.

"When it became available, we immediately seized the opportunity," said David Heald, president and chief executive officer of Santa Cruz County Bank.

Less than a half-mile from 325 Soquel Ave., it puts the bank in the heart of downtown, along with Comerica, Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, Bank of the West, Bank of America, Wachovia and the startup Lighthouse Bank slated to open Oct. 30. Ceil Cirillo, who oversees the city's Redevelopment Agency, welcomes the move.

"I'm pleased to see them become part of the downtown community," she said, noting there are few open storefronts.

"Except for the Sentinel and the Rittenhouse building [which is under construction], there is very little vacant space downtown" Advertisement Ground-floor spaces available include the former Togo's at 1315 Pacific Ave., some small second-story offices on Pacific Avenue, and the former E3 Playhouse and space vacated by A Mother's Place baby store on Front Street.

For the green remodel, Santa Cruz County Bank has hired a Santa Cruz firm, L. Kershner Design. Designer Lorri Kershner said the project will involve new lighting and flooring and possibly skylights. Redesigning an interior is more complicated than building from the ground up, she said, predicting the work will be done next year. Her firm is working on two "green" hotels, one in Anderson, near Redding, and another in Merced for the Gaia chain. Both are aiming for LEED certification, the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability.

"I love that green has become fashionable," said Kershner, who taught environmental studies before switching to design some 20 years ago.

 

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