Archive for Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sale of land to bring bookend banks to Towne Center

October 13, 2005

Lansing residents will see construction on at least two new banks next year, if all goes as planned.

First National Bank of Leavenworth and MidAmerican Bank and Trust will be the "bookend" banks at the planned Towne Center development.

First National's entry into Lansing was solidified last week when the Lansing City Council directed Mayor Kenneth Bernard to complete negotiations for the sale of land at Main and West Mary streets to the 149-year-old Leavenworth bank. MidAmerican announced plans in March to build a full-service bank at Main Street and 4-H Road.

Rick Schneider, first vice president at First National, said more than 750 of his bank's account holders live in Lansing.

"We feel it's only a natural progression to want to move closer to our growing customer base," he said.

First National is proposing a $2 million, 14,000-square-foot, two-story building for Lansing. The full-service bank will include several lanes for drive-through services.

"I can tell you that the building that we're going to propose is a huge investment for our ownership, and we don't take it lightly," Schneider said. "It's a long-term commitment."

Though yet unnamed, First National's bank in Lansing won't carry the "Leavenworth" moniker, Schneider told council members. It will, however, be larger than the main bank in Leavenworth by about 4,000 square feet.

Schneider said two banks going up on opposite ends should serve as a beacon to would-be tenants at Towne Center. The construction should send a message to business owners and commercial developers "that, hey, there's something going on in Lansing and we should be a part of it."

Council member Bob Ulin said he was impressed with the renderings of First National's Lansing bank that were presented last week.

"That's exactly the kind of facility that we need here, as far as the architecture," Ulin said.

The plans, he said, show that Lansing can attract quality development as envisioned when Main Street Overlay District rules were being debated a few years ago.

"We said, 'You know, we ought to have exactly the same thing as Lenexa and Olathe and not stand for anything less.' A lot of people said, 'No, that's nonsense. Nobody will build that for you up here.' Well, they're starting to build it up here," Ulin said.

Schneider said he didn't want to offer an exact timetable for First National's plans in Lansing. The sale contract with the city is not yet signed and there's regulatory issues and engineering work that must be taken care of before ground can be broken, but he said he hoped construction would begin in 2006.

Marvin "Pete" Payne, president of MidAmerican, could not be reached for comment this week about progress on its Lansing branch. But in March he said, "We'll have at least four drive-up lanes, all of the traditional banking products, investment products, loans."

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