Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:54 pm
BMO Harris Bank has opened its new branch office in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood.
The 2,200-square-foot branch at 3637 W. Fond du Lac Avenue replaces the 20,000-square-foot branch and offices at its previous location across the street, which was burned during the civil unrest in Sherman Park in August 2016.
Several buildings housing eight businesses were damaged in fires set during the August 2016 unrest in Sherman Park, after 23-year-old Sylville K. Smith, an armed African-American suspect stopped by the Milwaukee Police Department for a suspicious vehicle check, was shot and killed by a 24-year-old African-American police officer following a foot chase in the 3200 block of North 44th Street.
The Canadian bank opened a temporary Sherman Park branch in a portion of the previous space in September 2016, when it became clear the damage to its original branch was extensive.
The old branch, which was built in 1927 and BMO had occupied since 1959, is being redeveloped into an entrepreneurial hub, the Sherman Phoenix.
The new branch, which is BMO’s first “smart” branch in Wisconsin, was developed by Madison-based Compass Properties. It opened Nov. 29.
“We are pleased that our efforts helped to keep BMO Harris in the Sherman Park neighborhood, and equally pleased to get this project completed on time and within budget,” said Sheldon Oppermann, executive vice president for Compass Properties. “A project like this doesn’t happen without a partner like BMO Harris – they were determined and committed to stay in this community, and worked closely with us to make it happen. We also appreciate the great support we received from the Sherman Park community, our new neighbors.”
With consumers doing more of their banking online, many banking companies have started to drastically reduce their branch footprints and bring more technology into the in-person experience.
In BMO’s case, this meant installing Smart ATMs that allow consumers to withdraw cash without a debit card using Mobile Cash, free wi-fi and bankers with mobile devices that can be used throughout the branch. The Smart ATMs, which are in the lobby, offer 24-hour access to customers.
Danielle Jackson is the Sherman Park branch manager, and three other bankers work at the branch. One of her hires, Jamal Washington, lives in the neighborhood and worked as a trainer at BMO, but wanted to switch to a role in Sherman Park, she said.
“It’s a pleasure to have someone work in the community who lives in the community,” Jackson said.
The branch also has an office for mortgage bankers or business partners to take appointments, a processing room and a drive-up Smart ATM.
“The great thing about this location, we don’t have a physical drawer, which makes it a lot safer for us and our customers,” Jackson said. “We have a cash recycler.”
The customer response has been positive so far, Jackson said. She has been the branch manager since April, and said the first day in the new branch was the best in terms of number of accounts opened since she started.
“It’s a new building, modern, sleek so we’ve been hearing really good things from our neighbors,” she said.
BMO declined to disclose the number of customers or deposits at the branch, but said most of the customers were retained in the transition.
“We have a long and proud history in Sherman Park, and today’s announcement builds on 58 years of community partnership,” said Jud Snyder, senior executive, Milwaukee at BMO Harris Bank, in a statement. “In a year in which we mark our 200th year as a company, we are thrilled to plan for our future in Sherman Park with the opening of this state-of-the-art branch – located just steps away from our previous location.”