HAPO lighting up Kennewick

By Loretto J. Hulse, Herald food writerMay 25, 2012 

Kennewick has a new landmark. It's a bold dynamic sign at the corner of Clearwater Avenue and Columbia Center Boulevard.

It's impossible to miss. The LED video sign covers 900 square feet of the Northwest corner of the new HAPO Business Complex. It measures 20 by 35 feet on the Clearwater side and 20 by 12 feet on the Columbia Center side.

Graphics and video stream across it constantly, changing every few seconds.

"Right now, HAPO's running some commercials and promoting the various summer events being sponsored by HAPO, including Live at Five, Cool Desert Nights and River of Fire," said Crystal Contreras, communication director for the credit union.

"It's a phenomenal thing to watch as you drive by, especially at night," she said.

And drivers waiting for a light to change will have plenty of time to catch the messages. "I timed it. It took the light from Clearwater facing west a minute and 15 seconds to change," Contreras said.

The sign isn't solid -- it's made up of more than 1,000 LED strips spaced about 13/4 inches apart across the building.

"People in the offices inside can see out. They have about 48 percent visibility," she said.

HAPO officials are hoping the distinctive sign will help to rename the Kennewick iconic building. Since it was built in 1980, Tri-Citians have referred to the big, square, silver building as the flashcube. But in the age of digital cameras, few know what a flashcube is.

Instead, the credit union is hoping people begin referring to the HAPO Business Complex as "the one with the big, pretty HAPO sign," Contreras said.

HAPO is reserving the sign for its own use right now, but may make it available to buildings tenants in the future.

Contreras was unable to say how much the high-tech, cutting-edge sign cost, saying it was rolled into remodeling costs. HAPO bought the building at 7601 W. Clearwater Ave. in November and has been remodeling and updating it inside and out.

On June 22, HAPO will open a new branch on the ground floor and move much of its home mortgage operations there as well.

"We won't be closing any of our branches or moving the corporate offices from Richland," she said. "We're just gaining more room and a new branch."

HAPO already has 12 branches in the Tri-Cities, Yakima, Sunnyside, Hermiston, and come July, one in Walla Walla too.

HAPO occupies the entire first floor and part of the third of the business complex. Some tenants already have moved into the building but there's space available on three of the four stories.

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