Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:58 pm
BMO Harris Bank plans to build a new branch in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood, across the street from a branch that burned during the unrest in the neighborhood in August.
The new branch, to be developed by Madison-based Compass Properties, will be located at 3637 W. Fond Du Lac Avenue and is expected to open in the fall; the exact date has not been set. It will have a smaller footprint than the 20,000-square-foot branch it will replace, but bank leaders do not yet know the size. The site is currently a parking lot.
“The way banking has changed, the branch is going to be smaller than the current branch that we have in place,” said Chris Michalski, regional president, southeast region, BMO Harris Bank. “I would compare it to a café style Starbucks/Apple store.”
It will be constructed in the bank’s “Smart Branch” model. It will have Smart ATMs that will allow customers to withdraw cash without a debit card using Mobile Cash, as well as video conferencing for on-demand banking professional assistance and free wifi. Four to five employees will work at the new branch.
Several buildings housing eight businesses were damaged in fires set during the Aug. 13 violent 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 September, when it became clear the damage to its original branch was extensive. BMO will also be working with Compass Properties and local community groups to redevelop the damaged branch into a philanthropic project, the details of which it is still hashing out. BMO has not disclosed the cost of the damage to its old branch.
“We’re permanent, we’re here, we’re rebuilding in that community and we continue to commit to Sherman Park,” said Jud Snyder, senior executive, Milwaukee, BMO Harris Bank. “This has been a journey for us and everyone’s been very patient and supportive.”
“I am deeply grateful for BMO Harris Bank’s commitment to Milwaukee and the Sherman Park neighborhood,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “I value the investment the people at BMO Harris Bank have made in making Milwaukee an even stronger city, and I applaud their community spirit.”
Alderman Khalif Rainey, who represents the Sherman Park area, issued a statement Thursday thanking BMO Harris for remaining committed to Sherman Park.
“BMO has been an important asset in our neighborhood since it acquired the current branch in 1959,” Rainey said. “Throughout the planning process for the new branch location, the BMO team has worked with the city and with neighbors to better serve our residents. Even now, they are partnering with local community groups to make redevelopment plans for the old building, which was built in 1927 and is a historic fixture on its block.”