We reported earlier this summer about the difficulties the Joule project faces in filling 30,000 square feet of retail space on the north end of Broadway. Another piece of that puzzle has filled in as Umpqua Bank has announced it will open a branch in the new development this fall. Umpqua calls itself “the world’s greatest bank” and Capitol Hill residents will have the chance to evaluate the truth to these lofty claims soon.
The Oregon-based chain will open a new store (they don’t call them “branches”) in November or December, according to company spokesperson Lani Hayward. The Capitol Hill location that will be housed in the Joule building will employ six people the company will be hiring in the next couple months.
The Capitol Hill store will be a testing ground for new ways to bring the public in from both an experience and technology perspective, according to Hayward. The company will explore the possibility of featuring local retailers and cross promoting events with community groups. Hayward said Umpqua wants to help bank members be part of the larger community as well as make bank transactions.
“I sort of asked myself the $64 million question — how do you differentiate a bank?’” chief executive Ray Davis told the Puget Sound Business Journal in April. “We couldn’t out-muscle the big guys. But we could differentiate the delivery system.”
Umpqua joins Qdoba as chains that have announced they are opening in the Joule. This is a good place to note that Joule and Qdoba are CHS advertisers. Umpqua Bank is not but we’ll cover it just the same. Even if they get mixed up in some questionable decisions along the way (though we’re sure some of you might not consider advertising on CHS a massive social upgrade over sidewalk chalk ads).
Umpqua will be located on the ground level of the Joule’s corner at Broadway and Mercer, according to permits filed with the city. Umpqua “stores” are said to be tailored to look like anything but your usual bank. Community members can come in and sit down with a cup of coffee while surfing the web and computer screens will appear on the walls where members can share photos.
“Our store environments are meant to invite the public in,” Hayward said. “We want people to come in and browse.”
Hayward said the company is exploring ways to make impulse buys happen in the bank in the same way they do in more traditional retail settings by providing a different (and highly visual) banking experience.
Umpqua will announce the official opening date of the store soon. For those looking for it, the swap of a check cashing service for a large regional bank will be yet another sign of changes on the Hill and, specifically, Broadway.