Just weeks after opening a new River Forest branch, Community Bank of Oak Park and River Forest will be opening its latest branch on South Oak Park Avenue in a twenty first century space with a distinct nod to the history of Oak Park.
Tom Manfre, Chief Financial Officer, notes that opening a new branch on the south side of Oak Park makes a lot of sense for the local bank. “It’s something we’ve been eyeing for a while. It wasn’t if, it was when we would open in this part of the village. We’re really excited to show our unique customer service to this side of town and showcase what our people and our technology can bring them.”
Branch manager, Kathy Marchwiany notes that the branch will serve not only Oak Park but also neighboring communities and says the new branch will be more than just a business.
“We want to continue our focus of giving back to the community through this branch. It’s not just about donations, it’s also about time.”
The building at 810 South Oak Park Avenue has been home to a bank since the 1970’s. Bob Ellison, Vice President Operations and Technology for Community Bank, oversaw the renovation of the space and says that working with a team including contractor Level Construction, interior designer John Scott, and renovator Doug Freerksen, insured that the space fully represents Community Bank’s commitment to the latest in technology and service while also embracing the history of Oak Park.
Calling the location a true branch of the future, Ellison points out the full-service bankers’ desks with technology where bankers can perform all of the banking functions, while also helping customers complete loan applications or simply deposit checks from their mobile stations. Private offices provide space for one-on-one meetings, and a lounge area equipped with USB ports and a large screen television invite customers to linger. Moving glass walls enclose a walk-up ATM in the lobby, allowing customers to access the ATM even when the bank is closed.
Ellison called on local carpenter and vintage restoration firm Von Dreele Freerksen to create the stunning focal point of the new branch. Inspired by old teller booths in nineteenth century banks, Freerksen created a teller booth of rich wood with custom-made metal lattice, gold lettering on the transom windows and vintage glass salvaged from a downtown building. Community Bank’s leaf logo was carved into the booth by local craftsmen.
Ruth McLaren, Senior Vice President, likens the concept of the personalized branch with its old-fashioned touches to It’s a Wonderful Life, harkening back to the time when the bank was the center of the town. To that end, Community Bank worked to incorporate spaces for the local community in the re-design of the space. By day, a large conference room serves the bankers in the branch. At night, the space with its separate entrance, kitchenette and bathroom can be used by local community groups who need a space to meet.
President and CEO Walter Healy comments that this new office, close to his neighborhood, might be his new home.