OakStar Bank is in the process of occupying a Chesterfield Village building for an operations center in the works the past year.
Crews with Nabholz Construction Corp. were completing work the week of Jan. 14 on the top two floors of the former Summit Preparatory School building, 2155 W. Chesterfield Blvd.
“We’re doing final touches, but the bank’s moving in,” said Darren Rust, construction superintendent, on Jan. 15. “They’ll be moving in computers and getting all that set up.”
OakStar acquired the three-story building in 2017, but officials have said little about their plans.
Scott Whisman, OakStar’s chief information officer, confirmed bank personnel were scheduled to move in Jan. 17-18. He said via email 40 staffers will fill approximately 16,000 square feet on the second and third floors. Jeff Scott, the bank’s chief operations officer, said some employees from the Battlefield Road branch would be joining the center’s staff.
Rust said the 9,500-square-foot bottom floor is intended for lease. Whisman said the bank has an interested potential tenant that he declined to name.
Contractor Rust said the project started Oct. 9, and a city building permit for infill renovation for the operations center listed a value of $43,000. Whisman declined to disclose the project cost.
Upon visiting the construction site Jan. 15, a Springfield Business Journal reporter observed the first floor was largely being used as a storage area, filled with equipment and boxes.
Offices and workstations fill both floors of the operations center, with training space and conference rooms on the second floor. The third floor also features a fitness room equipped with showers, as well as a break room with glass garage doors allowing rooftop access. A stairwell leads to another roof accessible area that includes a wooden pergola and an unobstructed view of a large portion of Chesterfield Village. Rust said the material for the pergola was lifted by a crane in sections to be assembled on the roof.
“It’s pretty neat what they’re doing,” Rust said. “On the second and third floors, they put in a lot of storefronts, so they get a lot of natural light in.”
Rust said crews are awaiting an HVAC unit, which will be installed on the rooftop Jan. 28. However, he said it wasn’t a roadblock to bank employees moving in.
The interior of the building was gutted after Summit Prep moved out last summer, Rust said. Summit moved to a new campus at 202 E. Walnut Lawn St., in a former Mercy fitness center, renovating the space in advance of the 2018-19 school year, according to SBJ archives.
School officials said the previous campus lacked room for growth and greenspace for students.
According to past SBJ reporting, ownership of the building transferred to the bank from businessman Bob Noble in May 2017. Since then, OakStar officials had not returned SBJ’s requests for comment on the building plans.
The bank already had a presence in Chesterfield Village, running its operations center from 3805 S. Kansas Expressway. It sold the building to CoxHealth in November 2017 and began leasing its portion while CoxHealth prepared to open a new clinic.
The CoxHealth Center Chesterfield has been operating there for about a year, said health system spokeswoman Kaitlyn McConnell via email.
“We wanted to stay in Chesterfield because it’s an excellent area with numerous amenities in and around the vicinity, and it’s conveniently located near the two major thoroughfares of Kansas Expressway and James River Expressway,” Whisman said via email.
Rust said due to the bank’s desire to move upon the expiration of its lease with CoxHealth, the construction project had a tight schedule – essentially four months of work in a span of three months.
“The bank’s lease was finishing up and they had to have a place to move into,” he said, noting the project couldn’t have been completed on time without the help of project subcontractors Gold Mechanical Inc., Cardinal Roofing Inc., Artisan Construction Services and Joplin Industrial Electrical Inc.
“We started working 10-hour days to gain that month,” he said, noting they made the schedule adjustment after about a month into the project. “To hit our schedule, everybody stepped up.”
Last year, OakStar dropped three spots to No. 9 on SBJ’s list of the area’s largest banks and savings banks with $480 million in local deposits, down from $504 million reported in 2017.
It ranked No. 4 for fast growth in SBJ’s 2018 Dynamic Dozen, based on $38.5 million in 2017 revenue representing three-year growth of 76 percent.
Whisman said OakStar has grown to 15 branches and 260 employees through acquisitions, including Camdenton-based First National Bank last year and its five branches in the Lake of the Ozarks market.
Accounting for the acquisition, OakStar in 2018 reached more than $950 million in assets, according to past SBJ reporting.
A second Springfield branch is under construction on East Sunshine Street.
Another chapter of the Mother Road’s allure rolls out.
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