Midland States Bank continues to have a presence in the downtown of Effingham, Ill., because of a unique renovation that turned its former headquarters into lodging for employees.
By William Atkinson
When $6.1 billion-asset Midland States Bank in Effingham, Ill., moved its headquarters from the city’s downtown square after 137 years, it had some options for repurposing the aging structure.
Rather than sell it, the community bank decided to renovate the building and create 14 units of what it calls “live and work executive apartments.” Midland States Bank designed the project, dubbed Midland Lofts, to provide out-of-town employees with short-term accommodation when they’re visiting the bank. “Our Midland Lofts are very helpful, since our bank’s corporate footprint ranges from Rockford, Ill., to St. Louis, Mo.,” says Lee M. Harms, facilities director at Midland States Bank.
It’s a new use for an old building. “The building on the corner of Jefferson and 5th Street was the bank’s main location starting in 1883,” says Harms, who notes that the bank was called Bank of Eversman, Wood and Engbring back then. The Jefferson Street building was the community bank’s headquarters until 2012, when it completed a new facility just a couple miles away. After moving both its branch and offices from the old location, corporate team members occasionally used the building—until staff came up with a better idea.
“We have management and executive-level employees who relocate to our Effingham area,” Harms says. “We realized that we could provide a solution while also reinvesting in a historic community building.”
The apartments are available to rent for employees of Midland States Bank, Inc. The long-term rental apartments come with a fee, but the bank provides short-term units free of charge to employees visiting from outside of Effingham. “If a Midland employee who works primarily in a different market needs to travel to Effingham for work, we can provide them with a short-term unit in the heart of our downtown,” Harms says.
More than a lick of paint
During the renovation, Midland States Bank outfitted the building with upscale amenities, from a fitness center and a theater room to private offices and meeting rooms.
Harms says the project had its challenges. In addition to needing a general contractor, the community bank had to find specialists in electrical, plumbing and heating, glass and security to execute the revamp. “We knew that renovating a building with an original structure from the late 1800s was going to have some interesting renovation situations along the way,” he adds.
Another key to the project’s success was the fact that Midland States Bank executives worked closely with the team of contractors. Harms says having a clear vision from the start helped the work move along smoothly.
“For us, the most exciting part of the project was being able to repurpose an underutilized property in our downtown area,” he says. “It was a fun project, because it was different than other projects we have done in the past.”
“For us, the most exciting part of the project was being able to repurpose an underutilized property in our downtown area.”
—Lee M. Harms, Midland States Bank
Maintaining a community connection
Building Midland Lofts has helped Midland States Bank deepen its commitment to Effingham. “We understand that each community has unique and specific needs,” Harms says. “Our goal is to come alongside and ensure that we are creating effective relations in the communities that we are fortunate to serve. Effingham has a special place in our hearts and is an important part of our Midland story.”
Harms sees Midland Lofts as a way to preserve part of the bank’s corporate history within the town. “Most notably, we were able to preserve a portion of the historic Effingham State Bank logo mosaic at the front entrance and provide an unusual workspace within an old bank vault,” he says.
The project also enhances the downtown area, which has seen a boom in recent years. “New restaurants, shops and community events make [staying downtown] a highlight for out-of-town visitors,” Harms says. “We think it is great that our corporate tenants can provide patronage directly into our small business community.”
So far, employees have seen a positive response. “We have had a lot of people staying there,” says Harms, “and we have been getting really good comments from them about the apartments and also the amenities in general.”
What does the future have in store for Midland Lofts?
“One thing we are looking at is whether the facility would be more usable if we were to create a different breakdown of short-term, intermediate-term and long-term rooms,” Harms says. “As a result, we may change some things around in some of the rooms as we get more information on this.”
William Atkinson is a writer in Illinois.