Build Versus Remodel

By Katy Koch Campbell

Guthrie County State Bank in Guthrie Center, Iowa, population 1,507, worked with TurnKey Associates in Waterloo, Iowa, for a year examining ways it could remodel and stay in place downtown. Instead, they turned over their space to city hall and moved to a lot they owned across the street and built entirely new. While it was important to blend in with a flat-front building, one goal was to create a completely energy- efficient building of high-insulated concrete. To enhance customer service a pod system was installed instead of a teller line. Fully accessible on all sides, a customer at the “cash bar” can look over transactions with a concierge while a cash recycler counts the money.

The barrier-free teller pod can take some getting used to. “It has taken some time for customers to understand as we have people that still just aren’t sure where they are supposed to stand when they come in,” said Berna Tucker with Heartland Community Bank in tiny Gowrie, Iowa, which added a teller pod in a remodel with TurnKey. “It has been interesting to watch this evolve.” 

Security Trust & Savings Bank in Storm Lake, Iowa, population 10,773, kept its location as a family- owned bank dating back to 1908, but removed “way too many teller stations” with brass gates. Kirk Gross Co., Waterloo, Iowa, found a way to meet the owner’s request to repurpose the beautiful Italian marble of the existing counter in a contemporary look with curved fronts on a new reception desk beside the tellers. “We broke away from the rigid, original straight line and developed a scheme where we salvaged what marble we could, recut and framed it with wood trim to fasten onto the desk,” said Bob Zandi, KG’s director of architectural services.

Iowa State Savings Bank in Knoxville, Iowa, population 7,204, did a complete remodel of 7,000 square feet in its main location with TurnKey Associates. The 1903 bank on a downtown square includes two stories with apartments. It kept the traditional teller line but added work stations for loan processors, said Scott Voight, owner of TurnKey. “The bank is hiring people, and they are out of space. They’re filling every nook and cranny. A former file room that is not needed because of digital filing will soon be remodeled with employee work stations,” Voight said.

When the project is a new build, established banks may think the best way to satisfy their traditional customers is by offering familiar heritage details in the welcoming new space.

“We are definitely not losing our core teller line. We’re constructing a kind of a combo ‘sit down, stand up’ type teller line in our new location. Our customers are pretty traditional,” said Anita Vogel Drentlaw, a fourth generation president of the family-owned New Market Bank in Elko New Market, Minn. The bank originated in 1905 as First State Bank of New Market in a simple white frame structure that was replaced by a brick building in 1913. Operations of the $110 million bank are housed at a larger facility in nearby Lakeville, and the bank is a tenant and anchor of a new retail center owned by a venture capital group. The project shell was designed by HTG Architects with construction by Vanman (both firms are based in Minneapolis).

“We’re looking at our own space marrying historic with new so there is not a loss of our heritage. We’re looking at tile that looks like wood instead of ceramic tile. We’re making sure the colors match with our logo, grays and blues and darker wood in the style of older buildings.” And, yes, there will be a living-room-style lobby with a fireplace, big screen TV and coffee service. “Customers like to come in and visit, having a space to be comfortable and do that,” Drentlaw said. 

“It’s kind of bittersweet” to leave the original location, Drentlaw said, “but we needed more space.” The retail center offers a more visible profile, a drive-through (non- existent at the old building) and plenty of parking. 

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