Ent Credit Union is growing so fast, the $8.1 billion financial institution will reach the capacity of its new Colorado Springs headquarters by the end of next year and could start another building within two years.
Ent started moving groups of 200 employees into the new building June 28 and will complete the process Aug. 10. The headquarters will house about 800 of Ent's 1,300 employees in its call center, consumer and mortgage lending, information technology, finance and accounting, human resources, member services and administration
The state's largest credit union had planned to sell the two buildings it owns near Interstate 25 and Woodmen Road after moving into the five-story, 325,000-square-foot replacement northeast of Interstate 25 and InterQuest Parkway. But after a deal to sell the buildings fell through, Ent will hang onto them for now while it determines whether the space is needed before the next phase of its 27-acre campus — which has room for four more buildings totaling 700,000 square feet — could be ready, said Rich Scholes, Ent's chief experience officer.
"We haven't fully decided what to do, so we will wait until we get through this project and moved in before making that decision. I would love to have already started (the next phase), but we are probably two years out," Scholes said. "Our priorities are to invest in regional expansion, digital (capabilities) and space for employees, but digital is the highest priority because demand for digital services has grown so much during COVID. We will probably pause getting all of our employees onto this site."
The new building gives Ent more than double the 125,000 square feet it occupies in the two other buildings and a third one that is leased; when that lease expires at year's end, that space will be returned to the landlord, Scholes said. The new facility was supposed to support its operations for seven to 10 years when the credit union announced plans for the new headquarters in January 2019. Ent has grown its assets by 45% and added more than 85,000 members and 450 employees in the 2½ years since then, according to data from the National Credit Union Administration.
The new building is designed to help Ent attract and retain employees with a two-level cafeteria that faces Pikes Peak and is operated by Michigan-based Creative Dining Services, plus a fitness center with cardio and weightlifting machines, spinning cycles and a yoga studio; eight training rooms; workstations that can be raised and lowered for working while standing or sitting; rooms for employees to make private phone calls and several other amenities.
"This building represents four years of planning and construction and more than 1 million man-hours of labor and we made this investment in Ent's future during the pandemic," Scholes said. "We wanted to build a high-quality place where we can attract and retain the best talent — that is the biggest challenge we face. We are a service organization, so our service is only as good as our people we hire and the training we give them."
Ent paid $17 million in 2019 for the site in The Campus at Foothills Farm, part of the 450-acre mixed-use development called The Farm, from La Plata Communities, developers of the Briargate area; it spent another $78.3 million on the headquarters building and a four-level, 825-space parking garage, according to the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. Colorado Springs-based GE Johnson Construction Co. is general contractor for the project.
Ent has extended its reach during the past five years to include 10 Front Range counties, stretching from Pueblo and Cañon City to Fort Collins, and has added 15 branches in the past 2½ years with plans for four to six more annually over the new few years. Much of the expansion will take place in the Denver area and northern Colorado. Ent operates 43 branches along the Front Range.
Ent’s new headquarters is in one of the city’s hottest business corridors. Penrose-St. Francis Health Services began construction in May on the 72-bed St. Clare Hospital, its third Colorado Springs campus. In-N-Out Burger opened a restaurant and distribution and production facilities last year in the area, which also is home to several data centers and high-technology manufacturing plants, the InterQuest Marketplace shopping complex, the Great Wolf Lodge and several other hotels and restaurants.