Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

North Shore Readies First Downtown Bank

North Shore Bank's homey downtown branch could have patio cookouts.

By - Mar 11th, 2020 05:22 pm
North Shore Bank's new downtown branch. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

North Shore Bank’s new downtown branch. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

North Shore Bank‘s new downtown branch, built out of a 90-year-old house, will open in two weeks.

Located at the north end of Downtown, at the northeast corner of E. Pleasant St. and N. Water St., the 1,800-square-foot branch includes a glassy addition to a brick house. The interior is decidedly modern with a focus on access, discovery and connection, said bank senior vice president and head of retail banking Susan T. Doyle during a tour of the space.

Customers will still be able to find a traditional teller, but they’ll also have access to tablets loaded with bank services and access to an on-site personal banker. “We are trying to create a multi-use space, which is really what customers want these days,” said Doyle. Two video teller stations are included on the building’s exterior, offering service seven days a week to customers even when the branch is physically closed. The new branch will be the bank’s 43rd in Wisconsin and 12th with a modern layout.

The location is deliberate. “Customers have really told us they want a presence in the downtown area,” said branch manager Ray Guardiola. The bank anticipates many of its customers will arrive on foot, including from the hundreds of nearby apartments.

Beyond repurposing the existing house, the new branch takes advantage of the sloped site and offers a patio overlooking The North End apartment complex and Milwaukee River. Guardiola told Urban Milwaukee the patio is a first for the bank and special programming for customers is planned, including cookouts.

One of the video teller machines, located in a secured area underneath the patio, will double as an automated teller machine (ATM) and will be open to customers of any bank at any time of the day. The space will be accessible by swiping any bank card that has a magnetic strip, said Guardiola.

Plunkett Raysich Architects tackled a number of design challenges in merging old with new in creating the branch. “We used the stainless steel panels, which are a hallmark of North Shore Bank, and married that with the existing brick,” said project architect Ryan Schmitz. A modern entrance through what was the front door leaves brick exposed inside a glass-box entryway, but once you step inside the new building it would be very easy to miss that you are in a converted house.

A trip to the basement, which won’t be open to the public, reveals a lot of new mechanical equipment and a substantial amount of shoring. Bracing has been added to floors, which showed signs of fire damage. The brick chimney is gone, as it would have divided what is now a small conference room on the first floor.

What about the house’s second story? It’s effectively mothballed space at this point with the house’s staircase removed.

The end result is a building with an exterior that is far from cookie cutter, but an interior that allows the bank to replicate its successful model found in many suburban branches.

Pinnacle Construction served as the general contractor on the project, and despite having the existing structure to work with still needed plenty of materials. Schmitz said the project required 15 tons of steel and 12 truckloads of concrete.

North Shore Bank, which is headquartered in suburban Brookfield, has branches throughout Wisconsin and northeast Illinois. Its video tellers, which staff 28 machines, are located in Brookfield. The bank was the first bank in the state to deploy the video teller service.

North Shore traces its roots back to the creation of the North Shore Building and Loan Association in 1923 in Shorewood.

The bank acquired the downtown site in 2016 for $375,000 according to city records. Construction began in July 2019.

The new branch is scheduled to open to the public on March 25th.



November 2019 Photos


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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: North Shore Readies First Downtown Bank”

  1. Keith Prochnow says:

    Jeramey, pleae check your neighborhood map. This bank is not, “Located at the north end of Downtown…” it is clearly part of the Lower East Side. In fact, this mistake seems illustrative of the fact that this is a Brookfield-based bank: Their “new downtown branch” isn’t downtown at all. They are confused about where downtown starts and and another neighborhood begins. For Brookfielders, the “downtown area” may be anything east of 124th Street or Hwy. 100.

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