Wauwatosa Savings Bank moving main office to city’s west side

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Wauwatosa Savings Bank moving main office to city’s west side

By David Niles, SBT Editor

Wauwatosa Savings Bank will move its corporate headquarters from the Wauwatosa Village area to the city’s west side in a phased process starting next month.

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The move is the latest sign of growth for the bank, which recently opened a full-service office in Oconomowoc.

The new 40,000-square-foot headquarters will be at 11200 W. Plank Ct., just off Watertown Plank Road. The first group of corporate employees will move into that facility in mid-April, said Robert E. Perry, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Wauwatosa Savings Bank.

The move "is somewhat the culmination of everything we’ve grown into," Perry said, noting the bank’s expansion beyond its current main office at 7500 W. State St. in Wauwatosa. "We will be freeing up retail space at the main office and creating a more efficient environment for the corporate and back-office employees."

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Increased lending and deposit activity at the State Street office has created the need for more retail space there, said John Perry, vice president of Wauwatosa Savings Bank.

The bank has had its information technology people at Plank Court for more than a year, taking advantage of the advanced IT wiring in place there, John Perry said. The site had once been the home of the former Voyager.net Internet service provider, which after purchasing ExecPC, was purchased by CoreComm.

"The whole area has the latest in IT wiring," John Perry said. "That’s why we first moved there; it’s definitely on the leading edge of technology."

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About 70 employees will work out of the Plank Court site, he said. Those will include people in the corporate, marketing, accounting, call center, human resources and IT areas.

Most of employees will move from the main office or other leased spaced on State Street, but others will come from the company’s Oak Creek office.

The Plank Court site will have a training area and a presentation room that will accommodate more than 100 people for bankwide meetings.

After the corporate staff moves in mid-April, back-office personnel will start making the move in May. The transition is expected to be completed by June.

Wauwatosa Savings Bank is currently leasing the space but has an option to buy the property.

Thomas & Egenhoefer Inc. of Menomonee Falls is handling the construction in the Plank Court building.

Other notable businesses in the area include Miller Brands (the area distributor of Miller Brewing products), Bostik Findley, Empire Fish, a Federal Express terminal and Northwestern Publishing House. The Salvation Army also recently established its regional offices in the neighborhood.

Along with the new main office, Wauwatosa Savings Bank now has offices in Oak Creek, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee and Waukesha, all of which the bank has developed as full-service offices rather than limited-service branches.

The bank plans to replace its Waukesha office at highways 164 and 18 with a new 35,000-square-foot facility in the city of Waukesha. The company’s Pewaukee office, inside the Kohl’s Food Emporium along Capitol Drive at Highway J, will be expanded.

The Oconomowoc office is in a 15,400-square-foot building the bank purchased at 1233 Corporate Center Dr., in the Oconomowoc Corporate Center along Highway 67 just north of I-94. The bank is occupying approximately 4,000 square feet of the building. A Robert W. Baird & Co. office is housed in another part of the building.

The bank’s space was not previously occupied, so there was no tear-down required for its development into a bank office. A three-lane drive-through was added.

The bank had been looking at the Oconomowoc market for about a year, Perry said. The area has been a hotbed of development, and more is on the way. Directly across Highway 67 from the bank is the massive Pabst Farms, slated for residential and commercial development in the coming years.

Gwendelyn Hood, who has been with Wauwatosa Savings Bank for nine years, is manager of the Oconomowoc office. She had previously managed the bank’s Pewaukee and Waukesha offices.

The bank focuses on consumer products. It has more than $1 billion in assets.

Meanwhile, Waukesha State Bank will build an office at 1227 Corporate Center Dr., just down the road from the new Wauwatosa Savings Bank office in Oconomowoc. It will be the eighth office for Waukesha State Bank.

"Our natural plume of customers is Waukesha and west; this is the next step west for us," said David Frazer, vice president at Waukesha State Bank.

Oliver Construction Co. of Germantown will build the 32,000-square-foot structure on architectural designs of Hartland Associates. The bank will lease space in the building to other tenants and will have a 2,500-square-foot community room available for the public.

Construction is expected to start in mid-April, and the office should be ready for business by the end of the year, Frazer said.

Wauwatosa Savings Bank’s Perry sees room for both banks in the area, and notes they hold somewhat different niches in the market. "We can both be successful here," he said.

Other recent regional bank actions have included:

— Community Bank of Grafton announced that it would change its name to Cornerstone Community Bank.

— First Banking Center said it would establish a branch in Walworth.

— Hartford Savings Bank said it would establish a branch in Juneau.

— Ozaukee Bank, based in Cedarburg, is opening a branch in downtown Milwaukee.

— Lincoln State Bank will open an office in downtown Milwaukee.

— The Port Washington State Bank will establish a branch in Grafton.

— Community Bank & Trust, based in Sheboygan, is opening a branch in Glendale.

— Fox River State Bank is being established in Burlington.

— M&I Marshall & Ilsley Bank is expanding in Arizona with several new facilities this year.

March 21, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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