Choice Spot for Banker's Vision
By Aldo Svaldi
October 29, 2006
Greeley-based Bank of Choice is planning a location on 17th Street in Denver, not an uncommon move for banks wanting to show they have arrived. But the bank's choice of locations, in the Westin Hotel complex across from the Palm Restaurant, is anything but typical.
"It won't be like a bank lobby, it will be more like a hospitality suite," said Debbie Jessup, president of the bank. The 3,100-square-foot space is designed to give customers a comfortable place where they can transact business, Jessup said.
Gone are teller windows and austere finishes. In are plasma televisions, wireless Internet access and an outdoor patio. The Tabor Center location, to open in December, will house the bank's private client services and commercial real estate banking groups.
Bank of Choice isn't the only one showing a creative approach in trying to reach customers. Citywide Banks of Colorado plans to open its 13th branch location early next month in the Aurora retirement community of St. Andrew's Village.
Bank of Choice considered locating its Denver branch on a floor high in a downtown skyscraper, as some other banks have done, but the street-level location was too good to pass up, said Michael Alcott, who will manage the branch.
Denver's movers and shakers, if they didn't know about Bank of Choice before, can't escape it when they enter The Palm, a preferred spot for power lunches.
Bank of Choice, founded in 1997 as Weld County Bank, was one of several independent banks that took root in northern Colorado during the 1990s.
As recently as three years ago, the bank had only $140 million in assets. But Darrell McAllister, after he took over as chairman and CEO, changed the bank's name in 2004, created a new holding company and started to grow the bank.
Choice acquired Colonial Bank Shares, the First National Bank of Arvada and Palisades National Bank last year. Assets have grown to $935 million, with $430 million from internal growth. The bank has 17 locations and 260 employees.
Bank of Choice made a splash in the Denver market this summer with a $16.3 million loan to developer Mickey Zeppelin for Taxi, a residential and office development at the old Yellow Cab headquarters at 3455 Ringsby Court.
Alcott and Kenneth Boggs, formerly with Bank of the West, helped put the Taxi loan together. Bank of Choice also recruited Jessup, Key Bank's top executive in Colorado for several years, this spring.
Barbara Walker, executive director of the Independent Bankers of Colorado, said northern Colorado is a highly competitive market and McAllister may see metro Denver as offering better opportunities.
"If you can say one thing about Darrell McAllister, it's that he thinks outside the box, and his current expansion shows it," she said.
Tim McManus of Frederick Ross Company represented both the buyer, RKM, and the seller, Anthony John Palombo, in this transaction.