Columbia Bank makes changes downtown

It will close branch, move staff to ex-West Coast Bank site

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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Columbia Bank will consolidate its two downtown Vancouver branches into one office in late summer, the bank's CEO said after a bank-sponsored forecast breakfast event on Thursday.

Staff from the bank's original Vancouver office at 400 E. Mill Plain Blvd. will move into a former West Coast Bank branch at 500 Broadway, a six-story building that has been renamed Columbia Bank.

The consolidation is one of about eight that will take place after Tacoma-based Columbia Bank's acquisition of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based West Coast Bank, said Melanie Dressel, CEO and president. The bank now has about 158 branches.

Columbia's parent, Columbia Banking System Inc., purchased West Coast Bancorp in early April in a $573.4 million acquisition that put the bank among the state's highest ranking by deposit market share, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s most recent list.

The number of jobs affected by the merger is unclear, according to Dressel.

"We're still working on the integration process," she said.

She said Columbia Bank has developed a system it uses to reassign displaced workers whenever possible.

It's a bank practice developed in recent years, when there were several bank acquisitions, including the former Lake Oswego, Ore.-based West Coast Bank, Snohomish County-based First Heritage Bank, Colfax-based Bank of Whitman, Skagit County-based Summit Bank and American Marine Bank, located on Bainbridge Island.

Columbia Bank will vacate approximately 4,400 square feet of space at 400 E. Mill Plain on the ground floor of the Al Angelo Building. As the building's first tenant, Columbia Bank moved to Vancouver in 2009, shortly after the former Bank of Clark County was seized by regulators.

Columbia Bank specializes in commercial lending, Dressel said.