Two banks?#34;one new to the village, another a long-time fixture?#34;hope to open new branches in Oak Park with drive-up facilities, something that needs village approval.
Banks are approved uses in business districts, but drive-ups need a special use permit.
Community Bank Oak Park-River Forest, 1001 W. Lake St., has purchased 809 S. Oak Park Ave.?#34;the former home of Curran Glass Studio?#34;and plans to build an approximately 2,000-square-foot full-service branch with two drive-up lanes.
The village board was expected to forward the matter Monday night to the Plan Commission for a public hearing. The Zoning Board of Appeals would normally handle smaller projects like a one-story bank, but items have piled up on its agenda, now reaching months out into the future.
The bank had hoped to purchase the corner property?#34;now a gas station and auto repair shop?#34;but owners there were not willing to sell, said Martin Noll, Community Bank president.
Having a drive-up is an essential component to a bank these days, Noll said.
“You don’t build a remote facility to attack?#34;if you will?#34;a segment of the market without the ability to do drive-in banking,” Noll said.
The bank learned with its River Forest location, which does not have a drive-up, how important the facilities are with a car oriented culture. Noll said the branch has been successful, but not nearly as much as it could have been with a drive-up.
Add to it the fact that banking in the village has only grown more competitive in recent years, and all signs point to the need for a drive-in, Noll said.
And speaking of competition, MB Financial Bank plans to open its first area location with a 3,700-square-foot full-service bank with drive-up services at 6621 W. North Ave., the former Ahern Funeral Home site.
Last week the Oak Park village board forwarded the special use matter to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
The bank would offer a commercial pass-thru window, three island-mounted kiosks and one ATM drive-up island, according to village documents.
Jeff Husserl, executive VP of administration at MB Financial, said the site was chosen because of its location on North Avenue and because it’s in Oak Park.
“It’s really both,” Husserl said. “Oak Park is a great community. We have a number of customers that are in Oak Park, and it represents a great market for us.”
Husserl touted the company’s new marketing slogan, “Betsimpsier! Better. Simpler. Easier.” as reflected in accessibility of the bank, which will be open seven days a week and later than traditional bank hours. The lobby would close at 7 p.m., and the drive-up services at 8 p.m.
“We think that’s a key factor that differentiates our bank,” Husserl said.
Chicago-based MB Financial has 39 Chicago-area locations, the next-nearest to Oak Park being at 8300 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago, according to its web site. Husserl said the bank plans to open five new branches a year.
In May, village staff urged the bank to get input on the project from nearby businesses and residents. Husserl called a June meeting with neighbors “very productive,” and said the bank will address traffic concerns by not allowing right turns onto Columbian Avenue.
After Ahern closed, Oak Park-based Heritage Companies bought the property to build an H-shaped 24-unit condominium building. Heritage President Tony Stephens said the bank made an “attractive” offer, and the company sold the property in December 2004.