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UPDATED: Bank of Santa Clarita buys Ethan Allen building on Citrus Street

Valencia location will be new headquarters and fourth branch

Posted: December 14, 2009 4:29 p.m.
Updated: December 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Bank of Santa Clarita on Monday purchased a 15,000-square-foot Valencia building - home to an Ethan Allen furniture store - where it will set up its headquarters and fourth branch during the next year.

The move caps a year of success for the local institution - the same year national banks have suffered serious setbacks.

Bank president and CEO Jim Hicken attributed his bank's success, in part, to running things "the same way today as when we opened" in 2004, as well as not taking federal bailout dollars.

"We manage the bank, in many aspects, the old-fashioned way," he said. "We don't chase short-term results."

Located at the corner of Magic Mountain Parkway and Citrus Street, Bank of Santa Clarita's new headquarters and branch will replace the corporate offices at 27433 Tourney Road.

That lease expires in April 2011, but Hicken said the adjacent branch's lease extends through 2014.

At 15,240 square-feet, the new location outsizes the existing offices and branch by roughly 3,000 square-feet. The selling price was not disclosed.

Shares of the publicly traded bank closed at $7.20 Monday. Over the past 52 weeks shares have ranged between $6 and $8.75.

Hicken said Ethan Allen is renting the space from the bank as it winds down its operation over the next two months.

Ethan Allen's corporate representatives could not be reached Monday afternoon. An employee at the Valencia store said it is unclear if the store will relocate in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Bank of Santa Clarita is not the only small bank to weather the economic storm.

Mission Valley Bank - with branches in the Valencia Industrial Center and the Centre Pointe Business Park - has also seen successes in 2009.

Mission Valley CEO Tamara Gurney said there is a night-and-day difference between community banks and national corporations.
"We're on Main Street," she said. "We know most of our borrowers extremely well. Larger banks are just doing a lot of volume transactions."

Bank of Santa Clarita opened its third branch in the Plaza at Golden Valley last March. At the end of October, the bank reported third-quarter results showing a spike in earnings from the same period in 2008.

In an environment of bad financial news, Hicken said, "for us this demonstrates how well the bank is doing ... and our commitment to the Santa Clarita Valley."

Roughly a year ago, Hicken said, the bank started developing its long-term facility plan. Less than a month ago, potential buyers of the Ethan Allen building backed out, and Bank of Santa Clarita jumped at the property.

"We were very, very, very fortunate," Hicken said of the 15-day escrow period. "It's an ideal location for a branch."

Gurney said she is looking for 2010 to be a year of recovery for the banking industry.

"I think 2010 will end better overall," she said.


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