When First National Bank of the Rockies opens its new branch in Sundance at Fish Creek in May it will be the newest and sixth bank in Steamboat Springs. But overnight, it will be able to claim the most locations in Routt County.
First National Bank of the Rockies, established in Meeker in 1993, has entered the planning process to build a two-story bank on Anglers Drive adjacent to McDonald's restaurant. However, regional President Bill Leeson doesn't intend to wait a year to open the small group of banks' first location in Steamboat. He said this week that he has leased a retail space across from the Sundance post office from AlplenGlow ventures and would like to open as early as next month.
"We're a known entity, and we want to begin training our employees and begin serving our existing customers," Leeson said. "The thing I think we'll definitely bring to Steamboat is the small-town way of doing business we're known for in small rural markets."
First National Bank of the Rockies has offices in Oak Creek, Hayden, Craig, Meeker, Rangely and Grand Junction. It is owned by a bank holding company known as FNBR Holding Corp. Its board of directors includes Peter Waller of Meeker, Timothy Mather of Glenwood Springs and J. Gentry of Rifle.
FNBR has contracted to purchase the site for the new bank with AlpenGlow. City planner Tom Leeson said the bank site is among four parcels within Sundance North and will be up for consideration when the commercial center comes before the city Thursday for subdivision
platting. However, the bank development will be reviewed as a separate project in the future. No date for public hearings on FNBR has been set, Leeson said.
If the city approval process goes just right, Leeson said the new 6,400-square-foot building could open a year from now. He is prepared for it to take longer.
The project would include the bank on the main floor with a full basement. A second story will be available for lease by other businesses and could accommodate future expansion of the bank.
Leeson said he sees positive demographic trends that suggest a sixth bank can prosper here. Steamboat is not simply the town of 11,000 people that meets the eye, he said.
The population of Steamboat is growing at two to three times the national rate, he said, but another statistic may be more telling.
"The population is growing faster than the rate of construction," Leeson said. "If you think that through, you begin to see that there are people who purchased real estate and who were part-time residents, who are retiring here. There are very few communities where you see that dynamic."
Census data shows that while the total number of housing units in Routt County grew from 9,252 in 1990 to 11,217 in 2000, the owners who said they use their home only occasionally went down. That number fell from 2,839 to 1,977, supporting Leeson's belief that part-time residents are becoming full-time residents.
Leeson has looked closely enough at U.S. Census figures to know that in addition to high household incomes, people here have bank deposit rates that also are two to three times the national average.
"There's nothing magic about that, but it shows that there is tremendous potential beyond a typical town of 11,000," he said.
Leeson will oversee the construction project and the completed bank. He intends to hire a branch manager.
The project architect is Don Brinkmann of Eric Smith Associates. Tentative elevation drawings show the building would have a distinct tower on one end. Exterior materials show a combination of stucco, wood siding and a stone veneer known as "ledgestone," accented by wood columns and beams. The roofing materials would include green asphalt shingles and corroded corrugated metal.
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