Archive for Thursday, February 3, 2005

Bank no longer spectator to growth

February 3, 2005

During the 15 years that First State Bank and Trust has operated in Basehor, the city has undergone tremendous transformations.

And now, the bank is about to do the same.

Next month, First State, which is based in Tonganoxie, is set to break ground on a new bank building. The new structure, planned for the southwest corner of 155th Street and State Avenue, should take about a year to complete, according to Chris Donnelly, First State's executive vice president. The new site is just south of the existing building.

Groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for next month.

"We would like to start as soon as possible," Donnelly said. "We are shooting for March. There's still a lot to do and to design, and we hope to do it in March."

Donnelly said the exterior design of the new building is not complete yet. But the interior should include between 5,000 and 6,000 square feet of space.

"That should fit all of our future needs for awhile," he said.

Currently, First State employees are serving customers from cramped quarters at the northwest corner of 155th and State. Not only is the interior of the existing building lacking, but the exterior is, too, Donnelly said.

"Access will be so much improved from our existing facility, where you have to go in and out of parking lots and driveways," Donnelly said.

Parking is at a premium outside the existing building, which eventually will be put on the market for a use other than a financial institution. The new quarters will solve the parking problem, as well as congestion at drive-up lanes.

"Many times, at our existing facility at night, traffic's just backed up all around the bank, and it's just really not convenient for customers," Donnelly said.

Some things won't change, though, including the bank's management structure. Kathi Bontrager will continue to manage retail banking, while Ty Garver will continue as commercial lending officer at the bank.

While Donnelly said he didn't yet have final drawings of the new Basehor bank, he said the size will be comparable to the First State building on U.S. Highway 24-40 in Tonganoxie.

Patterson and Associates, which has offices in Lawrence and Kansas City, is designing the building, and Julius Kaaz Construction Co. Inc., Leavenworth, is contractor on the project.

The existing Basehor bank building actually was the first branch bank that was approved in Kansas. It opened in 1989. Bill New, chairman of the board at First State, has said that at the time, he tried to purchase a larger lot for the bank, anticipating First State's needs would exceed the site. Other sites were not properly zoned, he said.

The commercial and residential development in Basehor, along with the need for additional space, prompted First State to explore its options.

"Basehor's always been a really good market for us, and it's continued to get better," Donnelly said.

In addition to Tonganoxie and Basehor, First State also operates banks in Lawrence, Perry, Clearwater and Wichita.

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