ANB Bank plans to tear down a former Denny's restaurant at Academy Boulevard and Flintridge Drive and build a new branch on the site - part of ANB's goal of owning its locations instead of leasing them.

The new branch, part of the Flintridge Plaza Shopping Center, is targeted to open in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2015, said Lonnie Parsons, ANB's southern region president in Colorado Springs.

ANB paid $1 million for the Denny's location, which has been vacant since it closed about five years ago, El Paso County land records show.

Parsons said he didn't know the total cost of the project because it still needs to go out to bid.

The 2,800- to 3,000-square-foot branch will have two drive-up lanes facing Academy, and employ six to seven people, Parsons said. It will take the place of an ANB location that currently operates in leased space at 3845 N. Academy, on the north side of the Carefree Center Shopping Center.

Customers have had a hard time getting in and out of the Carefree Center location, Parsons said. Access should be better at Academy and Flintridge, he said.

Owning, instead of leasing, has tax advantages for ANB, such as being able to depreciate the value of its buildings, Parsons said. At the same time, owning gives ANB control over the look and feel of its branches.

"We can make the buildings look the way we want, within the framework of what the city allows, and that goes toward giving them a more recognizable, branding type of appearance," Parsons said. "You control your own situation as much as possible."

ANB Bank also is constructing a three-story, 18,000-square-foot building southwest of Cascade Avenue and Cimarron Street, where it will house its downtown branch along with commercial lending, trust and investment and cash management operations. The $5 million building, targeted for completion by mid-year, will have about 25 employees; it will replace ANB's existing location at 102 N. Cascade.

In the last year, ANB also improved branches at 1130 N. Circle Drive and 1095 Garden of the Gods Road, while also upgrading locations in Denver, Boulder, Grand Junction and Cheyenne, Wyo.

ANB is an independently owned community bank, and has more than 30 locations in Colorado, Wyoming and Kansas. Its parent company, Sturm Financial Group Inc., is headquartered in Denver.

Replacing the shuttered Denny's with a new ANB Bank should help boost Flintridge Plaza, a small, roughly 65,000-square-foot neighborhood center built in the late 1970s. Tenants include a Dairy Queen and Austin Hair & Co.

Its owner, Vintage Communities of Colorado Springs, already is giving the center a facelift, which is scheduled to be finished at the end of this month, said Rosemarie Venezia, a Vintage vice president.

The shopping center's metallic green roofline is being changed to a copper color, while tenants are getting new signs, she said.

"We're really excited to have them there," she said of ANB. "Their color scheme goes along with ours. We thought it was a perfect fit."


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