Having been born at F.E. Warren Air Force Base 70 years ago, Blue Federal Credit Union leaders had no doubt about where to build their expansive, modern and member-focused World Headquarters.
“Our roots are in Cheyenne,” said Blue Vice President of Public Relations and Business Development Michele Bolkovatz. “This is our home.”
And throughout the multi-year planning process, that mentality was paired with an eye toward home improvement. As Bolkovatz put it, “the entire goal was revitalization.”
For locations, the options came down to the old steam plant in downtown’s West Edge and the blighted Cole Shopping Center across from the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center property.
Credit union leaders found the latter best suited Blue’s needs for parking and their desire to be in the heart of town.
Now, Blue’s eye-catching World Headquarters is operational, complete with nods to Blue’s history, a community event space and outdoor plaza, an athletic training room for employees, and a new branch on the property that has space for local retailers to set up shop. With Blue’s 70-year anniversary coming up in June, a ribbon-cutting and grand opening will be held this summer, marking a new era for the largest credit union headquartered in Wyoming.
“We’re almost $1.5 billion in assets, and we have 100,000 members worldwide. So this is our members’ building; it’s because of the members and their loyalty that we were able to do this,” Bolkovatz said.
The project took off in a truly explosive fashion, as pyrotechnics were detonated to bring down the old shopping center at the corner of Pershing Boulevard and Converse Avenue in May of 2019. At that time, Blue’s support staff was split over six locations in two states.
Through the design process with Denver’s Open Studio Architecture, Blue Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kim Alexander ensured that every detail would serve members and bring staff together, while also recalling the history of the Cole Shopping Center and Blue’s military ties.
Upon entering the HQ’s giant glass doors, visitors and Blue members are greeted by a modern, but industrial style lobby, with wood from the shopping center and stone imported from Vietnam. Just around the corner from the lobby, the space opens up to a gorgeous piece of art depicting Colorado’s mountains and Wyoming’s plains, which leads visitors to the community event space at the HQ. The doors in that space open up to the plaza to allow for indoor-outdoor entertainment.
The plan is to have food trucks come to the plaza during the summer and to host a variety of events, from weddings to nonprofit fundraisers to outdoor community concerts. But Alexander added that another hope they had for the campus is already coming true.
“There’s about a half mile loop that we built around (the campus), and we already see people in the neighborhood out walking their dogs,” Alexander said, adding that the final result was “10,000 times” better than what she could’ve thought.
With 76,000-square-feet stretched across three floors and a workspace for 200 employees, the same level of detail went into planning Blue’s office space. From training rooms to calm rooms for breastfeeding or relaxation, each feature was made to encourage collaboration and an active work environment.
Each staircase has the outlines of national forests and mountains in Wyoming and Colorado, in part to encourage employees to take the stairs. The athletic room, complete with a full set of gym equipment, is another aspect to encourage employee health and wellness.
“Having happy employees leads to happy members,” Bolkovatz said, adding that physical health, financial health and emotional health are all tied together.
The building opened in December, ready to accommodate Blue’s growth into the future and provide a number of opportunities to local residents and members. Sitting where the blighted Cole Shopping Center used to, it serves as an example for what a vision can turn into.
“Throughout this entire building, we wanted to support and recognize where we’ve been and celebrate where we’re going,” Bolkovatz said.