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Newly named Bank Iowa plans elaborate Jordan Creek branch


Bank Iowa, a family-owned bank holding company with its roots in Clarinda, plans to build a West Des Moines branch that will also serve as its headquarters.

Currently in the process of changing its name from Panhandle Banks, the company moved its headquarters to a temporary location in Clive last February. It plans to break ground this spring on a new two-story “signature” branch and headquarters building that will be located on the southwest corner of Jordan Creek Parkway and Office Plaza Drive.

“Our move to the Des Moines area is a result of the growth we’ve seen,” said Stan Honken, Bank Iowa’s chief executive officer. The $575 million banking company holds six charters with branches in Western and Central Iowa. The West Des Moines location will be its 16th branch, under the same charter as its Altoona and Newton offices.

The bank, which began in 1976 when Donald Duncan, J. Robert Duncan and Harry Barr bought Citizens State Bank in their hometown of Clarinda, has grown primarily through the acquisition of small-town Iowa banks. The owners originally established the company under the name Panhandle Aviation, a subsidiary of Duncan Aviation that was in the business of transporting contractors to military missile silo sites under construction in Nebraska.

Honken said the bank is currently considering two additional acquisitions, and is looking at building more branches in Greater Des Moines and other Iowa cities as well.

The city of West Des Moines’ planning staff is scheduled to review an architectural proposal for the branch from Architects Smith Metzger today.

“The process (Bank Iowa) went through to select us was fairly elaborate,” said Daryl Metzger, a principal in the firm, “and I think an expression of their concern to find something that fits them. They interviewed 10 firms and had some of the firms do a preliminary design, which is rare these days.”

J. Robert Duncan, who is chairman of both Bank Iowa and Lincoln, Neb.-based Duncan Aviation, is known for his love of both classic and contemporary architecture, Metzger said.

“I think the blend of those two styles is what we were charged to create,” said Metzger, whom the bank plans to fly to Lincoln on Wednesday to meet with Duncan at his estate. “Certainly they’re looking for a signature piece of architecture for their West Des Moines operation. I think they realize that West Des Moines is an extremely competitive environment for banking.”

Clyde Evans, director of community development for the city of West Des Moines, said about 14 different banks are looking at locations within the city at any given point in time. Currently, four banks have branches under construction or are close to beginning construction.

Based on the inquiries he’s handled, “I would probably say in the next three years we would see at least 12 more,” Evans said. “But there’s a big difference between looking and shelling out the money for some of these sites.” Land in the most desirable locations is selling for up to $22 a square foot, he said.

The bank isn’t sitting idle while the West Des Moines branch is being built, said Kevin Ulmer, president of the Newton and West Des Moines branches.

Working from a temporary office at 13375 University Ave. in Clive, “we hope to grow the loan portfolio significantly by the time we move in next year,” he said. Ulmer, who had worked for Mid Iowa Savings Bank in Newton for 15 years, opened a West Des Moines branch for that bank in the mid-1990s. After joining Panhandle Banks in 1999, he opened Bank Iowa’s Newton location that same year.

“We will be an aggressive commercial and business lender and provide the deposit (services) for our customers, as well as providing household loans,” he said. “We will really emphasize personal service. It’s part of the heritage of our bank group; I think many us coming from the smaller communities understand that. It gives us a good background for knowing what our customers want.”

Other banks under construction or soon to start construction in West Des Moines:

– Fidelity Bank, southwest corner of Bridgewood Plaza and Jordan Creek Parkway

– First National Bank Midwest, north side of Mills Civic Parkway at Stagecoach Drive

– John Deere Credit Union, southwest corner of University Avenueand 59th Street

– Liberty Bank, southeast corner of 51st Street and Mills Civic Parkway

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