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Southwest Capital brings community banking background with local ownership, control

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Southwest Capital Bank, a family-owned bank formerly known as the Bank of Las Vegas, is planning a major expansion into Albuquerque with construction of a $6.9 million branch and corporate office at 1410 Central SW.

While its five locations in northern New Mexico function as community banks, the planned Albuquerque office will focus on meeting the needs of small- to medium-size businesses and high net-worth individuals, said Chairman and CEO Greg W. Levenson.

“We feel we can provide a service that has been missing for a number of years in Albuquerque – local ownership and local control of the bank’s decisions,” he said.

Founded in 1890 as The Las Vegas Savings Bank and renamed the Bank of Las Vegas in 1965, the bank was acquired in 1969 by the late S. D. “Sam” Levenson, an entreprenurial Lubbock businessman who learned the banking business by serving on a bank’s board of directors.

Sam Levenson was also the controlling shareholder for a time of banks in Carlsbad and Hobbs. In the early 1970s, he moved to Albuquerque and in 1975 opened Southwest National Bank at 6000 Menaul NE. He sold the bank, described at the time as “heavily business-oriented,” in 1983 due to health reasons.

Rebranding Bank of Las Vegas as Southwest Capital Bank in 2012 was “reimagining the same brand again,” Greg Levenson said.

Greg Levenson, who was a pilot with New Mexico Air National Guard’s 150th Wing, better known as the Tacos, joined Southwest Capital in 2000. Over a period of years, he took over the leadership of the bank from his father, Bob Levenson, who retired as chairman last year but remains an adviser.

Southwest Capital, which is the oldest state-chartered bank in New Mexico, has about $210 million in assets. It has existing customers in Albuquerque from relationships forged over the decades since the original Southwest National Bank’s founding, said Greg Levenson, an Albuquerque resident himself.

Southwest Capital’s two-story, 14,284-square-foot office on Central is being built on the one-acre former site of the old Huning Castle Apartments, which burned in 2009. The bank building is designed by RMKM Architecture and is being built by HB Construction, both of Albuquerque.

“It’s going to be unlike any other bank building in New Mexico, one we hope will be well-received and appreciated,” Levenson said.

The exterior will be clad in stone as a symbol of strength, while the interior will not have a traditional bank lobby but “more like a den in your home with a fireplace,” he said. When land and other costs are included, the new building is close to an $8 million project.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal