New bank branch holds grand opening

Published 6:30 am Thursday, January 11, 2007

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES – Eight months ago, it was a dirt parking lot.
On Wednesday, dozens of people gathered at the same location on Main and Fourth streets in downtown Niles, which is now the site of a $2 million 7,500 square foot regional banking headquarters for Chemical Bank. The financial institution was officially welcomed to the community with a ribbon cutting ceremony courtesy of the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce and Niles Main Street.
"At the groundbreaking, we were very excited because this is the first new construction downtown … in some time," said Tom Grant, community bank president of the Niles Chemical Bank. "We're looking forward to being more active in the community then in the past, and we've been pretty active through our south branch."
The new Chemical Bank branch employs 12 people, including tellers, mortgage, commercial and administration staff, and branch supervisor Jazmine Kyles and her team. The Chemical Bank branch at 1835 S. 11th St. will remain open, Grant added.
City officials and dignitaries welcomed the branch president and bank employees. Niles Mayor Michael McCauslin thanked Chemical Bank and called the building a "showcase" for people heading west into downtown.
"We appreciate both the interest and trust you've shown in the community," McCauslin said.
Chemical Bank Shoreline purchased the pair of lots on Main Street between Fourth and Fifth streets from the City of Niles in August of 2005 at a price of $86,000. The properties were formerly occupied by Gary's Standard and Aalfs Petroleum and were purchased by the city for $250,000.
Cathy Janeczko, chair of the Chamber of Commerce board of directors, commented on the design of the structure and its presence, and said, "people will have no trouble finding this building."
The event also marked the first grand opening since the Niles Main Street organization was awarded accreditation by the National Main Street Program, making Niles the first of 11 Michigan Main Street organizations to earn that honor. Niles Main Street Director Lisa Croteau called the new Chemical Bank a "phenomenal investment" and also credited the company for installing four columns from the historic Niles Michigan Inn – formerly the Old Diggins Hotel – at both entrances to the bank.
"They've been wonderful partners, using the columns and understanding the importance of historic preservation," Croteau said.
On Saturday between noon and 3 p.m. during the Hunter Ice Festival, Chemical Bank will be offering a public tour of the building, free rides through downtown on a horse-drawn carriage and other family friendly activities. A Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours is being planned for May.