Bank News

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Exterior photo

Banking is good theater
in Tulsa

by Susan Cook, assistant editor

n Tulsa, as in many urban areas, finding vacant lots for new bank structures is virtually impossible.

So when State Bank & Trust decided to build a new branch in the city's established Brookside area, it had no choice but to consider existing buildings.

As with other member banks of the Arvest Bank Group--owned by the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame--State Bank needed a space that would accommodate a retail-oriented branch, complete with customer-friendly signage, ATMs and a drive-through. State Bank President Burton Stacy scouted the area in question and found a diamond in the rough in the form of an old theater and office strip.

The site was perfect, says project architect Steve Morrill of SLM & Associates, since it was located in a

shopping district with only one other bank in close proximity. But certain challenges had to be overcome before building could begin.

First, notes Morrill, the Brookside neighborhood association had strong architectural requirements

"We thought the customer base in the area would relate well to an environmentally sound project, give them something to believe in."

and would not allow demolition or strip development. Second, there was little space for a drive-through -- a feature Morrill says is necessary for the success of every bank today, even through the Brookside location also attracts pedestrian traffic due to surrounding shops.

The decision to renovate the existing strip of stores--in a style allowed by the strict Brookside guidelines--was a fairly easy one, says Larry Choate, State Bank senior vice president. "We thought the customer base in the area would relate well to an environmentally-sound project, give them something to believe in," he says. "We wanted to be a good neighbor, and we thought this would be an ideal way to do it."

Building the drive-through, states Morrill, was a little more difficult since it had to run behind (next page...)

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