Wednesday, August 6, 2014
HomeStreet gets the doors open
After a very long gestation period, Seattle-based HomeStreet bank birthed its Madison Park baby today, finally revealing to the world its long-awaited branch along the neighborhood's main thoroughfare. The prominent Madison Street location next to Bert's Red Apple was most-recently the site of the Tully's, the much-lamented and long-departed coffee shop. It's been almost two years since that exit.
HomeStreet would have been here earlier had it not been for the involved design and permitting processes and the fact that the hundred-plus-year-old building was in worse shape by far than originally anticipated. The end result of all that rehabilitation is pretty impressive, however. If you're willing to accept the fact that Madison Park is now a banking hub with five bank branches calling the neighborhood home, you will probably be pleased with the attractiveness and compatibility of HomeStreet's finished product. The bank sign apparently meets the community standards for its modest size, and the building doesn't look too bank-like. That, we're told, sits well with the neighborhood "powers that be" who try to enforce the various "village" standards. Another concession to the community: the fireplace that graced Tully's is back in an improved form to add to the ambiance of the bank's interior.
While we certainly can't claim that HomeStreet is not a bank, it can be argued that it's a bank that is different from the others that (with the exception only of KeyBank) have been part of the Madison Park community for many decades. Though they certainly didn't start out that way, each of the neighborhood's other four bank branches is a part of a big national bank organization based out of state---far out of state, in most cases (New York in the case of Chase, Ohio in the case of Key and North Carolina in the case of Bank of America). Only Wells can make the claim that it's even based in the general region (California).
Not that there's anything wrong with being from out of state. However, HomeStreet is definitely home grown, having been founded in Seattle as a mortgage company 93 years ago, later becoming a federally-chartered savings bank. HomeStreet, with about $3.3 billion in assets, operates 31 branches, ten of these in Seattle.
In charge of HomeStreet's Madison Park location is Ila Wagner, who joined the bank from Chase during the past month. She told us that she understands the fact that "there's a fear of over-saturation with banks in Madison Park." But "HomeStreet will be a different kind of experience." She cites the bank's intense involvement in the communities it serves as one example. Also, HomeStreet is, we're told, the "official bank" of both the Seahawks and the Sounders, with promotions related to both teams (special deals for season ticket holders, for example).
While today is Day One for HomeStreet's Madison Park incarnation, the big official grand opening will take place for the community in early September. That's when the bank will be giving away a lot of money.
Just kidding. (About the money give-away, that is).
[As a matter of self disclosure for those not already aware of the fact, the Madison Park Blogger is a banker by day, though not an employee of any of the banks who operate branches in Madison Park.]