First Indy Bank is branching south

Two Portland sites are possible because of new federal rules

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Vancouver-based First Independent Bank is on the verge of a branch expansion in Portland, with full-service branches planned at Cascade Station and in the heart of downtown.

The locally owned bank has applied to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to open a branch at 10233 N.E. Cascades Parkway, near the IKEA store at Cascade Station. The new branch, which would replace an office offering limited services at the site, also is subject to approval by Washington and Oregon regulators. The branch is expected to open in about 30 days, said David Bristol, First Independent’s chief legal counsel.

The downtown Portland branch will be at Southwest Fifth Avenue and Alder Street in the Yeon Building, which is undergoing renovation as a LEED-certified building. First Independent’s branch will open following renovation of its space, possibly early next year.

The bank had obtained ownership of the Yeon Building on a loan default, and negotiated for the retail space as part of the building’s sale, Bristol said. First Independent’s commercial banking and wealth management teams operate out of temporary offices on the building’s 10th floor and will move to the ground floor once it’s finished, bank officials said.

First Independent had long considered opening branches in Oregon, but federal law prevented it from opening full-service branches in Oregon without purchasing an existing bank, and the nation’s financial crisis put that idea on hold. The federal Dodd-Frank legislation that resulted from the nation’s financial meltdown eliminated state-imposed limits on bank expansion, making it easier for First Independent to revive its growth strategy now that it has returned to profitability.

Bristol said the expansion is a natural extension of the bank’s growing business activity south of the Columbia. Bank officials say the Oregon market represents about 40 percent of its commercial loans and 13 percent of commercial deposits. The Portland metropolitan area is a natural growth market for First Indy because it’s familiar territory, Bristol said. “We’ve done a good job of getting known there even without branching authority,” he said. The bank has no plans to expand outside the Portland-Vancouver metro area, he said.

Riverview Community Bank, also Vancouver-based, likewise is expanding to Oregon. Riverview already has branches in Portland’s Gateway district, suburban Wood Village, and the Willamette Valley community of Aumsville. It’s on track to open a branch in Gresham., said executive vice-president Kim Capeloto. Because the bank is federally regulated as a thrift, its ability to expand across state lines was unaffected by old regulations or the new Dodd-Frank rules, said Capeloto.

Riverview’s parent company has applied to convert Riverview to a state-chartered bank, which would put it under the same regulatory structure as First Independent.