Downtown Truckee bank pulling up stakes | SierraSun.com

Downtown Truckee bank pulling up stakes

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Downtown Truckee may be losing another cornerstone tenant with Bank of the West consolidating to its Gateway location.

Bank of the West has announced that its downtown branch, located on Bridge Street, will close July 11. All customer accounts, records, and safe deposit boxes will be moving to the Gateway Center location on Donner Pass Road.

“This was driven by looking at markets where we had branches close to each other,” said Karl Gentles, spokesman for Bank of the West. “Customers don’t lose anything in the transition.”

The two branches are about one mile apart, he said, and notices have already been sent out to customers.

The decision comes on the heels of the U.S. Postal Service’s announced intention to move out of downtown, meaning two key services could be leaving Truckee’s commercial core.

“It’s almost as big as losing the post office; it’s very disconcerting,” said Stefanie Olivieri, president of the Downtown Merchants Association.

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Having a bank downtown is not only important for shoppers, Olivieri said, but for merchants as well.

“Downtown needs a bank, it’s a vital component to any business community,” she said.

Olivieri said she would like to see the Bank of the West stay, at least through the end of its lease, which she said is up in six months, giving the town the opportunity to find another bank to fill the space.

Potentially losing both the post office and the bank has raised a larger issue of business retention in downtown Truckee, said David Griffith, redevelopment and housing coordinator for the town.

“We can start working with property owners and business owners and looking at the reasons they are having trouble, relocating, or closing down,” Griffith said.

Griffith said the Truckee Redevelopment Agency can employ business retention practices like town or state-based small business assistance, along with it’s usual roles in infrastructure improvement and affordable housing.

All affected bank employees will be able to continue working with Bank of the West, Gentles said.