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Santa Cruz County Bank takes its headquarters into downtown

March 28, 2008

By Lindsay Riddel - Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

Four-year-old Santa Cruz County Bank is moving its headquarters to downtown Santa Cruz, where it aims to be part of the growing, pedestrian-friendly, green movement Santa Cruz has embraced.

"There's a movement downtown with a growing number of owner-occupied condos and residences being built with this whole idea to walk everywhere, and I think that will bode well for us as well," says Mary Anne Carson, senior vice president and director of marketing for the bank.

Feedback from customers prompted Santa Cruz County Bank to move to the main pedestrian corridor downtown, even though their current building, just across the San Lorenzo River, is about equidistant from the town's center, Carson says.

People don't want to walk over the bridge, she says. "It's that old saying of 'location, location, location.' And perception," she says.

The move to 720 Front St., planned for the summer, will put the bank on the same side of the river as branches of Comerica Inc., Wachovia Corp. and Lighthouse Bank, the area's newest banking competitor, which opened in 2007.

The new headquarters will be remodeled to environmentally friendly standards certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Commercial interior improvements will meet LEED Silver certified standards, the third most stringent of four levels. The system ranks buildings based on factors including energy efficiency and use of recycled materials.

Santa Cruz County Bank is the No. 1 Small Business Administration lender in the county. It has four full-service branches and one lending office.

The bank has been eyeing the Front Street location for years. It will take over a building that has stood vacant for seven years and was formerly occupied by Coast Commercial Bank.

When Greater Bay Bank bought Coast Commercial, it moved out of the building and across the street, but had five years left on the Front Street lease. Wells Fargo recently bought Greater Bay Bank and is closing the most recentCoast Commercial branch.

"When the building became available, we immediately seized the opportunity to position ourselves in the vibrant and growing retail and urban living environment in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz," says Santa Cruz County Bank President and Chief executive officer David Heald.

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