For many years, Forest Park National Bank has wanted to add a branch location in neighboring Oak Park. And since the spring of 2011 the plan was to build on a site it had purchased at 715 South Boulevard, just east of Oak Park Avenue.
Those plans are now in limbo as the bank considers its options.
Citing changes in technology that allow more customers to bank electronically and the failure of the village of Oak Park to obtain federal grant funding to remake South Boulevard into a one-way street that would better accommodate the proposed drive-thru lanes, the bank’s president said its plans are uncertain.
Dan Watts, president of Forest Park National, said the bank is considering other sites in Oak Park.
Watts said the bank’s board of directors still has not decided what to do with the Oak Park property, adding, “We’re not completely discounting the idea (of putting a branch at the location).”
Watts said Oak Park’s inability to reconfigure the street is problematic. Making South Boulevard one-way would ease traffic congestion in the area and also make automobile access to a bank drive-thru “very easy,” Watts said.
“The whole concept is to get rid of the median and enhance the corner to be more like Marion and South Boulevard,” Watts said.
Donald A. Offermann, senior vice president of the bank, said in a written response that “changes in branch banking best practices, driven largely by technological advances in banking, have caused the (bank) board to reconsider the capital investment required for the construction of a large stand-alone branch.”
Watts said electronic deposits with cell phones have made it easier for some customers to make deposits, a recent change that in part prompted the board to reconsider.
He said the Oak Park market, however, is robust and the company is still scouting locations in the village.