BMO Harris Bank recently completed a $10 million restoration of the historic Southwest Bank building located in The Hill neighborhood of St. Louis, Mo. The building, which BMO has occupied since 2010, is known as the “gateway” of the community.
The Hill is a historic designated area in the Southwest Garden area of St. Louis, known for rich Italian culture and strong sense of community. The bank has been a landmark to residents since its construction at the corner of Southwest Avenue and South Kingshighway in the early 1900s. It gained national attention in 1953 after it was the scene of a robbery – an event so infamous it inspired a 1959 film starring Steve McQueen.
BMO enlisted the help of development partners Draper and Kramer, Inc. and Confluent Development to help retain the historic structure, including the building’s façade and the golden eagle that sits atop the building’s roof. Prior to and during the restoration, BMO officials met with neighborhood residents and city officials to garner their support and solicit feedback.
“The building and its history are important to The Hill and Southwest Garden neighborhoods,” says Hettie Ensign, Senior Regional Portfolio Manager, BMO Corporate Real Estate. “It was important to us to engage the community in the redesign process to make sure we considered their perspectives. By partnering with local leaders and community groups, we were able to get valuable input from people in the area.”
Construction on the bank began in 2016 and was completed in the spring of 2019. Along with the restoration, BMO’s bank branch was also upgraded with the newest technology, including modernized ATMs, video boards, and meeting rooms for customers to have private conversations with bankers and financial advisors.
“It’s been great to see the positive response the restoration has received from our customers and community members on The Hill,” said Justin Lankheit, branch manager of BMO Harris Bank’s branch in The Hill, adding that branch traffic has been strong since the unveiling. “Preserving the building’s historical elements while bringing modern upgrades for our customers was no easy task, but it demonstrates our commitment to grow the good in business and life. All of us at the branch take a great deal of pride in the environment we helped create for our customers.”
In December, the bank completed the last phase of the project, donating part of the original building to local non-profit organization Tower Grove Neighborhood Community Development Center. Their mission is to promote responsible development, affordable housing and diverse character and vibrancy in the area neighborhoods. That mission dovetails nicely with BMO’s focus on strengthening neighborhoods, social sustainability and inclusive local economic opportunity. We’re committed to preserving the history that makes this community special, while also working together to bring it into the future.
Written by Megan Hammond, Corporate Communications Manager in Chicago, Ill. Megan has worked in communications for more than seven years. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, binge-watching shows and spending time with her boyfriend and their two cats.