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Making progress: Credit union settles in on West End
Left to right, Chief Executive Officer Rhonda Diefenderfer, Vice President of Financial Services Kathy Tuttle, Board Chairman Richard A. Nauman Sr., Vice President of Adminstration and Marketing Tracy DuFresne and Vice President of Finance Patsy Guenthner at the new Avanta Credit Union building on June 24. At left, the exterior of the new building.

A locally based credit union with designs on growth is nearly ready to move into its new home office in the middle of prime West End property.

Avanta Federal Credit Union, originally Laurel Federal Credit Union, completes its 21,000-square-foot corporate headquarters this month.

Located on the corner of 32nd Street West and Central Avenue, the new building should be serving customers by the end of July.

The credit union has grown tremendously during the past two years, especially compared with its first 54 years of business. In 2003, the business acquired the Mountain State Federal Credit Union in downtown Billings and since then has opened a branch in Red Lodge, Columbus and now the new West End location.

"We have a large member base that lives in Billings, and they have wanted us to have a location there," said Rhonda Diefenderfer, president and CEO of Avanta Credit Union. "They are what fostered this project. It was a natural fit, a natural move for us."

CTA Architects Engineers designed the two-story building to capture a Montana feel and added a Frank Lloyd Wright touch to the design.

The top floor has a row of windows perched under a large overhang, while stone quarried from the Yellowstone River was used to furnish the majority of the exterior.

The sandstone came from an area of the river near Lockwood. A local mason quarried the stone and shipped it to Livingston to be cut into small, random sizes and then hand chiseled to fit the building's needs.

"It is a process we don't get to use much," said Greg Matthews, CTA project manager. "It is very labor intensive, and availability of material is in short supply."

Avanta chose the sandstone for this branch building and for its recently built branch in Columbus. A tri-colored concrete ribbon path curves around the building to the main entrance, where more sandstone was used to create an interior focal point.

Employees will appreciate a lounge with a walkout basement patio secluded from traffic by landscaping.

Second-story wrap-around windows allow the building to benefit from natural light. The interior uses lots of chrome, glass, stainless steel, wood and rich earth colors.

"From day one we knew we would build," Diefenderfer said. "We wanted to come in with our own presence and build with our own brick and mortar."

Fisher Construction provided the contracting on the building, which will house approximately 33 employees.

Editor's note: If your business is moving, has a major remodeling or construction project or other significant building project, we would love to hear about it. Please send information to: Chris Jorgensen, Billings Gazette, 401 N. Broadway, Billings, Mont., 59102 or cjorgensen@billingsgazette.com.

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