Bank Rolls Out Office

June 13, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — Bank officials decided to park their building on Ionia Avenue last year and then chose to help rebuild an Ionia Avenue park last month.

The Bank of Holland moved into its new Grand Rapids office at 51 Ionia Ave. SW, at the corner of Ionia and Oakes Street in the Heartside Business District, a few months ago. In that short amount of time, bank President Rich Lievense said the building has already made its mark in the neighborhood and has drawn a lot of positive remarks.

"We're very pleased with it and we've had a lot of very nice comments about the architecture," he said. "We like being part of this Heartside community."

The

Ionia Avenue
office is similar to the buildings the Bank of Holland has in Holland and Petoskey. It's a 10,000-square-foot, two-story brick structure that was built new, but looks very much like a building that has a lot of Heartside history going for it.

"About a year into the construction, a lot of people came to us and said, 'Gee, we really like your renovation.' It's kind of a timeless building and it seems to fit very well in older brick, historic neighborhoods. And we've just had very, very positive comments from our customers and our friends here," said Lievense.

Rockford Construction managed the construction work and Design Plus drew up the building plans.

As bank buildings go nowadays, the Bank of Holland office is small. But Lievense said having all the technology located in its Holland building allowed the bank to go with a more intimate office here.

"This is pretty much an office where all we do is handle relationships here, both mortgage centered and business centered," he said.

Customer service and business banking are located on the first floor, while the residential mortgage group and operations are situated on the second level.

Bank officials are as pleased to be in the Cherry Street Landing sector of Heartside as they are with the building. The bank sits less than two blocks south of

Fulton Street
and just east of Van Andel Arena. In fact, the building went up on 70,000 square feet of a former parking lot, space that once belonged to the Downtown Development Authority.

The Bank of Holland is in an area that has been commercially revised and is part of what many in the city refer to as an entertainment district due to its nearness to the arena and surrounding restaurants. Lievense said customers like the location as much as the bank officials do.

"It's easy on and easy off for the highway. They like the idea of having a little bit of parking right next to us. The comment we had from them is that we seem to be in the part of downtown that is up and coming," he said.

"Surprisingly, we have a number of walk-in customers here, too. They're out and about and down here for lunch, and we get them to stop in here. It's also a convenient location for our couriers that pick up deposits for business customers. We can get couriers in and out of here very quickly."

To the immediate south of the bank building is a small city park. For years it has been known as Heartside Park, but that name is likely to be changed fairly soon to Oakes Street Park in order to distinguish it from the newer and larger park farther south on Ionia that is also known as Heartside Park.

The 3,700-square-foot park was recently rebuilt and the Bank of Holland joined forces with Rockford Construction, Design Plus, the Frey Foundation, Belden Brick, Landscape Design Service and the DDA to pick up the $64,000 price tag of the project. The park had to be torn up so sewer and water lines could be extended to the bank building.

"Rather than just put back what was there, the bank took the lead in saying that it would be nice to do something better. So they agreed to participate in that," said DDA Executive Director Jay Fowler.

"The other significant thing the bank agreed to do was to maintain the park, which in this time — when the parks department staff is going to be significantly reduced — that is a big help," he added.

"I'm sure the Heartside residents will appreciate the improvements," said Paul Mayhue, a DDA board member and a county commissioner.

The Bank of Holland is a fairly young bank, having opened for business in 1998. The lender established an office here nearly three years ago and until three months ago was leasing space in someone else's downtown building.

"We're just glad to be here with a permanent location. We've been in downtown Grand Rapids for a couple of years," said Lievense. "We have a fairly good-sized bank here as it is, and it's nice to finally have a nice building for visibility and to be a part of the community."     

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