Business Community

Commencement Bank eyes move to former Harbor General Store building

Posted on October 31st, 2023 By:

Commencement Bank, which opened a loan production office in the Peninsula Shopping Center on Judson Street in August, recently received clearance from federal regulators to operate a full-service branch there. 

That won’t be its permanent home, though. The Tacoma-based regional bank plans to move to the former Harbor General Store building on Pioneer Way after that more than 40-year-old building is remodeled.

Commencement Bank

Commencement Bank operates branches in Tacoma, Auburn, Enumclaw and Olympia in addition to the new Gig Harbor branch. It was founded in 2006.

The local branch is led by Allisha McVay, previously the manager at Gig Harbor locations of Columbia Bank for 19 years.

“Gig Harbor has been an attractive market to us for a long time,” said Galen Annest, senior marketing officer at Commencement. “It wasn’t until we found Allisha and her team that we really felt it was the right time. We wanted people out there who already represented the community and have built relationships. The team we have out there is absolutely phenomenal.”

This image, filed as part of a permit application package with the city of Gig Harbor, shows few exterior changes being made in the conversion of the old Harbor General Store building to Commencement Bank.

Annest said the Gig Harbor market aligns with Commencement’s small-town values.

“Keep the focus local, support one another, give back to your community,” she said. “It’s very in tune with who we are. … (Gig Harbor has) the same outlook, as far as living in a community and supporting it and seeing it thrive.”

A once and future bank building 

The move down the street to the former Harbor General building won’t happen immediately. Annest said the bank is targeting mid- to late-2024.

The permit application process with the city of Gig Harbor started in April, not long after Harbor General closed in March. Preliminary plans available through the city’s permit portal call for, among other changes, repositioning pedestrian access and possibly removing an “unhealthy” tree that is perilously close to power lines.

But images included with the application show few changes to the exterior of the building, beyond an ATM machine replacing a street-facing window and the Commencement Bank sign over the door.

The structure was built as a bank in 1980, according to documents in the permit application. US Bank and Security Pacific Bank operated out of the building at 7804 Pioneer Way over the years. Harbor General opened there in 2015. 

An image included with documents filed as part of an application with the city of Gig Harbor.

A community space

McVay and four other employees of the Gig Harbor Commencement branch will move to the new location whenever it’s ready, Annest said.

Commencement wants to make the prominent downtown space available to community partners when it’s not in use as a bank. Harbor General did the same, offering its parking lot for the Local Makers Gig Harbor group.

“We’re looking at several different ways to integrate it into the community, to make it a space for people to use,” Annest said. “Possibly offering the parking lot for events. … “We’re definitely interested in making it not just a bank but beneficial for the residents.”