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Movable Bank Vault: a Safe Bet : They are Quicker to Build and as Secure as Other Types

September 01, 1985|TERENCE M. GREEN | Times Staff Writer

Somehow, the idea of a relocatable modular bank vault conjures up the mental vision of a couple of yeggs tippy-toeing off with it in their arms . . . a bit like Wiley E. Coyote sneaking away from what he thinks is a foolproof trap for the Roadrunner.

The actuality, of course, is that a modular vault is as solid and impenetrable and as strongly embeded in the building as a conventional vault, but it can be moved if you should remodel. It's also much quicker to build, and those are the big reasons that Los Angeles architect Garth Sheriff chose that type for Cathay Bank of Los Angeles' third branch, which he designed.

Situated at 601 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra, at the intersection of Alhambra Road, the one-story, 3,000-square-foot, stucco-over-wood-frame bank is being built by 2M Construction Co. of Van Nuys. The cost--not counting the vault--is $415,000 and the opening is expected early in October.

The problem boiled down to how fast concrete would dry, not the concrete forming the vault but that forming the floor. Heavy equipment had to roll on it to put the modular pieces of the vault in place. By the nature of schedules, the timing of everything depended on the timing of something else. It finally worked out that they had about a day to build the vault.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday September 22, 1985 Home Edition Real Estate Part 8 Page 21 Column 1 Real Estate Desk 2 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
LeFebure Banking Equipment & Security Systems was incorrectly identified in a real estate section story ("Movable Bank Vault: a Safe Bet," Sept. 1) due to inaccurate information provided The Times. The company is headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, not in Canton, Ohio.

That ruled out a vault poured on the site. The solution was supplied by LeFebure Banking Equipment and Security Systems of Canton, Ohio, one of the nation's very few builders of modular vaults.

Architect Sheriff explained that the vault is constructed of precast concrete panels three inches thick, made of a special high-strength concrete that gives them a U/L rating equal to conventional concrete 12 inches thick. The panels are held together by specially designed fittings and the interior is lined with steel panels, also held together by special fittings, after which the whole is welded together.

The dimensions of the vault are 12 by 13 feet, 10 feet high. Its cost is $35,000, including the conventional door.

Sheriff said, "We felt that both the incredible ease of installation and ability to relocate the vault were important factors for Cathay Bank.

"But, frankly, we were as attracted by the fact that LeFebure's vault has an interior volume roughly 40% greater than an equivalent poured-in-place structure. We were working with a very tight building site for the community branch and the extra space allowed for an entire safety deposit box department, that would have otherwise been impossible."

Tin Y. Kwong, founder-director and vice chairman of the bank--which he said is the largest Chinese-owned bank in Southern California--added that the last factor was decisive.

"We are very customer-minded," he said, "and want to provide our customers with every service we can, even in our smaller community branches. The extra space allowed us to provide safety deposit boxes, personalized customer lounges and other touches that would have been lost with a conventional vault. Plus the price is very competitive."

Plus drive-up teller service, automatic fund transfer machines, computerized operations . . . and the modular relocatable vault.

But not relocatable by a couple of yeggs.

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