by Long Hwa-shu
NorStates Bank is gratefully moving over to make room for a gas station and strip mall on the south side of Waukegan. And why not? A brand new bank branch building awaits.
The earth has been graded at a five-acre bank site south of the current bank, and adjacent to the All Star Car Wash. Officials gathered recently for an official groundbreaking ceremony and with shovels in hand, discussed the move.
The former bank located on the busy southeast corner of North Green Bay Road and Grand Avenue will be dramatically transformed into a Thornton gas station by early next year.
The old bank building is on a site which once held a school house that dated back to 1917. A large oak tree, which is believed to be more than 200-years old, sits at the corner. The tree will be saved from demolition.
“This is going to be a state-of- the-art bank facility. It will better serve the community,” said Scott Yelvington, NorStates president and chief executive officer, pointing out the branch is one of “the busiest and fast-growing” of the bank’s eight locations.
Alan J. Jacobs, board chairman, said the groundbreaking amply “shows the bank is moving ahead with its modernization.”
The ground-breaking came on the heels of the bank’s solid second quarter results with net income more than double to $392,000 from $180,000 in the first quarter. Total assets were up 5.3 percent to $444.5 million. Per share value as of June 30 was 38 cents.
The one-story, 2,356-square-foot branch will be a red brick building on a one-acre lot with three drive-up lanes. NorStates used to own five acres at the branch. To liquefy its real estate holdings, it sold four acres to Bluestone Single Tenant Properties, a Chicago developer, which will build the gas station. La Macchia Group of Milwaukee is the developer of the bank branch building on the remaining one acre. NorStates will lease the building back on a 25-year lease. Construction is expected to complete in January, according to Ben La Macchia of the development company.
Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley who disclosed plans for the strip mall called the new developments an excellent example of what “partnership” between the city and commerce is about.
“This indicates Waukegan is moving forward to redevelop and revitalize the city,” he said.
Greg Moisio, 3rd Ward alderman, in whose ward the developments are being made, pointed out that redevelopment not only will increase the value of the property, therefore higher real estate taxes for the city, but it will also bring in more sales tax revenue.
Lisa Abdula, a daughter of Fred Abdula, the longtime late chairman and CEO of the bank, known for his untiring civic contributions, was attending the ceremony with her two brothers, Patrick and Michael. “My father would have been proud and happy about the redevelopment,” she said.
The three heirs are running Air Con, the refrigeration and heating company founded by their late father.