by H. Haveman
It’s a good slogan. But it’s more than just clever wording. Washington Federal has been around since 1917 and has over 100 offices all over the West. Their goal is to improve the lives of those they serve in simple, yet effective ways. According to Gwyn Hoskins, Assistant Vice President and Gallup’s Branch Manager, banking at Washington Federal is more than a series of financial transactions; it’s about building relationships. And just as each deposit and loan holds a deeper meaning, there is more than meets the eye when looking at the bank’s beautiful new façade.
The newly remodeled building on the corner of Aztec and 3rd was originally built as Gallup Federal in 1958 and has stood in the midst of downtown commerce since then. Originally, the bank occupied the lower level and a law firm worked out of the upper level of the two-story building; the only stairway between was located outside and no elevator existed.
Due to the old layout of the building, much of the space was unusable. So over the years Gallup Federal expanded, moving into the upstairs of the two-story building, first, and then obtaining a building across the street to occupy its lending department in the mid-1990s. The bank began operating under First Federal in 2005, but only briefly before Washington Federal acquired it in February 2007. Because Washington Federal was undergoing a re-branding, the bank’s appearance remained the same until early 2010 when discussions and planning began for a new building.
With an out-of-date infrastructure, including a boiler for heating, an old roof, and accessibility not up to the codes
established by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the building was due for an overhaul. Minor remodeling was done to the loan center, which became the temporary site for all of the bank’s business, and mobile drive-in services were established.
Then in June 2010, demolition began. Because of the bank’s location, near the streets and in the middle of downtown business and traffic, special precautions were made during the demo process for safety. For a time, passersby could see local contractors and sub-contractors hard at work in the building’s vacant frame, which had been torn down to the original brick foundation. Hoskins conveyed the importance of preserving the structure, which stood as strong as any other brand new building. A complete demolition wasn’t necessary, nor did the bricks go to a landfill. Throughout the entire process, start to finish, Gallup has benefited because of Washington Federal’s approach, hiring locals and spending money here.
Last month, the bank was finished and celebrated an official grand opening during the last week in April. The changes to the exterior are obvious: new stucco in attractive colors, signage, and a front door facing the parking lot, giving clients safer, easier access. Inside, the floor plan is open and the color scheme is modern and inviting. The building has complete ADA access, with an elevator and sit-down teller station, an indoor staircase to the second floor, and room to house their entire staff. (The building formerly used as the loan center is no longer needed and will be sold.)
Upon entering Washington Federal, patrons are ushered through an impressive, 2-story entry and greeted with a warm “hello.” All of the services that the bank has provided remain the same, including savings, checking, CDs, and mortgage loans, which have always been serviced in-house. With all the changes at Washington Federal, clients can be certain of the bank’s long-term investment in the Gallup community and the commitment to maintain the strong foundation that already exists here.