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    Piscataqua Savings Bank has begun a 15-month renovation that will modernize its space on Pleasant Street in downtown Portsmouth.

    Banking on a new look

    By Robert Leavy

    Editor's note: This is the second in a 2-part story on the renovation project at Piscataqua Savings Bank.

    November 1, 2017 - Portsmouth, NH — With improving customer access and creating space for current and future growth the primary objectives, the 15-month renovation project at Piscataqua Savings Bank is underway, which is a development that excites the entire staff.

    "It is the result of a conversation that began a decade ago," said CEO Rick Wallis, who is just the 11th president of Piscataqua Savings Bank since its founding in 1877. "We are very pleased with the final design and look forward to seeing the project develop in the coming months."

    Joe Almeida, commercial studio manager at DeStefano Architects, said the design is "respectful to the bank's history and past while still providing the necessary changes for modern-day banking." As an example, he said they recognized the importance of the gardens at the bank, which he described as one of its most appreciated features.

    "We designed a conservatory that allows the gardens to come inside as a perfect transition into the main lobby from the parking lot," Almeida said. "I often describe it as capturing a bit of summer in a glass box for the customers to enjoy during the long months of February and March."

    Echoing sentiments expressed by Wallis and other senior officers at Piscataqua Savings Bank on Pleasant Street, he said the new design also makes it much more accessible with the direct entrance from the parking lot into the main lobby.

    "Our goal is that longtime customers of the bank will still recognize the environment that they have known for years but will appreciate the new layout and updated finishes," he said.

    Upon completion, the bank will feature an elevator, a new rear entrance with a conservatory that opens directly into the lobby, and enhanced teller stations designed for privacy and one-on-one customer service. There will also be a community gathering room with a separate entrance for use by area nonprofit organizations as meeting space.

    Joan Gile, executive vice president/operations officer, said the project also enhances employees' workspace in the approximately 200-year-old building and three other adjacent connected structures.

    "We talked with staff and wanted this renovation to improve their work environment," Gile said. "We looked at adjacencies related to office and department locations. The renovation will create spaces where staff can more easily share knowledge and tasks - it's simply more efficient."

    Acknowledging he will reserve his final judgment on the project once it is completed, longtime customer Alan Higginbotham, owner of New England Printing, said it makes sense on a conceptual level.

    "Any business - whether a bank or my business - needs a facelift from time to time," he said. "I'm sure the finished product will be great and first-class like everything they do."

    In further defining "first-class" as it pertains to Piscataqua Savings Bank, Higginbotham referred to "their people."

    "It's about the people," he said. "When you call and have a question, you get a person - you don't get a machine. When you have an issue or problem, you don't wait - it's all about the people at Piscataqua Savings Bank."

    According to Wallis and Gile, "the people" approach will not change nor will the bank's attention to personalized customer service.

    "The project will enhance our ability to meet the banking needs of our customers, many of whom opened their first account as a child here," Wallis said.

    Tony Cabral, vice president/information technology officer, said the renovations underscore an important characteristic of the bank.

    "We don't answer to stockholders - we're here to serve our customers and this project will significantly improve our ability to do that," he said. "Our objective is to be here tomorrow and well into the future to serve our customers, too."

    Read the original article from the Seacoast Online on November 1, 2017.
    http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/20171101/banking-on-new-look

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