Commerce unveils plans for local headquarters

4/30/2014

By RENÉE JEAN

By RENÉE JEAN

rjean@gctelegram.com

In Monopoly, when you get the chance to purchase a hot property, it's always a good idea to snap it up if you can, even if you don't put anything on it right away.

Six years ago, Commerce Bank snapped up the Bank of America location at 1515 E. Kansas Ave. Rich Harp, president of the Garden City branch of Commerce Bank, said Commerce did so with an eye toward the bright future it feels Garden City presents.

"Commerce Bank really liked the location and felt there was opportunity for growth with that location," he said.

A comprehensive study was conducted to examine the Garden City economy and its demographics, and now Commerce is announcing that it is ready to put something on the property it purchased.

It will be the home of a brand new headquarters featuring a contemporary design with a full-service banking center, as well as a drive-through with four lanes and an ATM. Inside, the facility will be designed to offer a more intimate customer experience with more privacy. There will be a technology bar with computer workstations for customers.

"We purchased this property and explored many options before finalizing this decision," Harp said. "Commerce did a comprehensive study, and the decision to invest in the community with a new community bank headquarters was based on a broad variety of factors, including positioning the company for long-term growth in the market."

Harp pointed out there are many successful businesses in Garden City, and the market continues to gain economic strength.

"It really is a real plus for any business out there," Harp said. "There are a lot of things going on in Garden City, and it's just nice to be a part of it."

Last year it was reported in The Telegram that the facility at the 1515 E. Kansas Ave. location was being vacated by Bank of America, since its lease had expired without an option to renew. Harp said the old Bank of America facility, which was 23,000 square foot, will be demolished to make way for the new 11,300-square-foot structure, which will begin construction in January 2015 on the southeast corner of the tract. Weather permitting, that will put the opening date for Commerce Bank's new headquarters in July 2015.

"We feel we can get more efficiencies out of a brand new facility, and it will have exactly the square footage we need," Harp said. "The heating and cooling in the building will be a state-of-the-art system, and the way the facility is going to be insulated and the design of the structure itself will bring a lot of efficiencies."

Commerce will employ about 32 at the new facility, which is the same as what Commerce employs now in Garden City.

"What we're doing is just consolidating our main bank on Main Street and our motor bank east, and putting those two locations into one, so we'll have the same number of employees," Harp said.

The downtown headquarters and east branch facility at 1601 E. Kansas Ave. will remain open until the new headquarters is complete, after which they will close. The 512 N. Seventh St. location will remain open once the headquarters is complete.

The downtown location has been on the market for about a year. It was listed as one property with Regan and Company Real Estate for $1.175 million, but has since been split into two separate properties. The north side property at 221 N. Main is listed for $390,000, and the south side, at 214 N Main, is listed at $785,000.

Harp said the location is ideal for professional offices, but the building could fit a wide variety of other businesses, too.

"We are committed to the betterment of the Garden City community, and we are pleased to implement this fresh and vibrant design to benefit both the community and our customers," Harp said. "This is a sizable investment we are making in Garden City and western Kansas, and we look forward to moving into a new facility."

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