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San Diego
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Hillcrest CB&T Completes Renovation

FINANCE: Local Artists Showcase Neighborhood in Mural

California Bank & Trust is renovating its Hillcrest branch, including installation of a colorful mural covering two exterior walls.

The bank branch opened in 1985.

The renovation will shrink the branch at 3737 5th Ave. from 5,306 square feet to 4,515 square feet of the 10,199-square-foot building, carving out 791 square feet of space in the front of the building along 5th Avenue that CB&T will make available for lease as a coffee shop, sandwich shop, or some other commercial enterprise.

David Russell SVP, Corporate Real Estate Facilities California Bank & Trust

“The makeover embodies a mid-century modern aesthetic to commemorate the original design, created by architect Richard George Wheeler in 1961,” said David Russell, the bank’s senior vice president of corporate real estate facilities.

Russell said the look was “characterized by clean lines, muted tones, various shapes, and a combination of manufactured and natural materials.”

“Essentially, we maintained the original architecture, but updated it with newer, more modern materials,” Russell said. “It complements surrounding buildings to integrate seamlessly into the urban neighborhood today.”

The exterior of the bank was kept white with wood details, but the color is a slightly brighter white.

“With the renovation, we restored the building’s original architecture by removing materials added to the structure over the years, including wood trellises,” Russell said.

Brighter Colors

As part of the renovation, local artist, Austin Gosswiller, with help from muralist Jack Strickler, installed a huge mural that covers the south and east walls of the building, depicting various landmarks around Hillcrest, including the Balboa Park Tower, Cabrillo Bridge, Harper’s Topiary Garden, the San Diego Zoo, the Hillcrest sign, and the downtown skyline.

Austin Gosswiller

“They really wanted to showcase the neighborhood and I think the mural embodies the positive vibes that Hillcrest exudes,” Gosswiller said. “It showcases that San Diego is an inclusive city. People feel that when they walk away from it.”

As an Ocean Beach native, Gosswiller said that painting the bank mural with its local connection “was especially fun and special to us.”

“Not only did we get to use a broad color palette, but drawing inspiration from the landmarks in our hometown that we’ve grown up with is an awesome experience,” Gosswiller said.

Inside, the building “was really, for the most part, demoed on the ground floor to almost shell conditions,” Russell said.

Project Manager Laura Goodwin said that little had been done to the interior since the branch opened.

“Its look was dated,” Goodwin said. “It was time for us to bring in some brighter colors.”

The overall colors stuck to the bank’s signature blue and white, but in slightly different shades that brighten up the space.

A new teller line was added with stand-up and sit-down desks.

“It’s a more open teller line. There used to be more of a separation between the customer and the teller,” Goodwin said.

Unlike some banks, California Bank & Trust doesn’t have the large plexiglass walls separating tellers from patrons, although some smaller partitions that were put in place during the pandemic have been left in place, Goodwin said.

New wood grain flooring and LED lighting were added.

“We just tried to make it more light and bright,” Goodwin said.

To give the branch a sense of place, the walls are festooned with framed photographs showing the neighborhood around the bank.

The renovation was designed by Hurkes Harris Design Associates based in Mission Valley.

In addition to the bank, the building is also home to Ala Project and CEOSD, Inc.

Planning for the project began in 2017 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

Tammy Keen, manager of the Hillcrest branch, said that although banking technology has changed significantly since the branch opened, “one thing that has remained is that clients want to speak with their banker and visit a brick-and-mortar branch when conducting large transactions involving their hard-earned money.”

California Bank & Trust

Founded: 1952
Headquarters: Torrey Reserve
CEO: Eric Ellingsen
Business: banking
Employees: 1,500
Contact: 800-400-6080
Notable: With more than 85 branches and offices, California Bank & Trust has more than $14 billion in loans and $15 billion in deposits.


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