The attention-grabbing aluminum-clad Commerce Bank building at 89th Street and State Line Road is coming down, to be replaced by a smaller branch bank.
The two-level building, with parking underneath and ramp access from both streets, was a notable addition to south Kansas City in 1979. It was the largest — and only the second — Commerce branch at a time when Missouri law allowed only two branches per bank.
The structure was intentionally designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Architects to stand out in the neighborhood and look different from any other masonry, brick or concrete branch bank. And for 35 years, the aluminum panels fabricated by A. Zahner did just that.
But times have changed in the banking industry. Commerce no longer needs a 10,000-square-foot banking facility with 16-foot-high lobby ceilings. It doesn’t need the long, broad access ramps that kept customer traffic from waiting on State Line or 89th streets.
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And Commerce doesn’t care to be a landlord to tenants who had rented office space on the building’s second floor and helped fill the building’s 134 parking spaces on three levels.
Demolition by Industrial Wrecking is expected to continue through November. Meanwhile, the branch has moved its services to the next-door Anthem College building on State Line.
After a rebuild due to be finished in mid 2017, the bank will reopen in a smaller, 2,400-square-foot facility.
Adam Steven, Commerce’s regional director for retail banking, said the new bank design “will be more reflective of changes in the banking industry … where bankers will be able to move more freely through the space and assist customers.”
Steven said the bank will be the sole tenant of the new building, leaving room on the corner lot for a pad site for a yet-to-be-determined commercial property. He said the new branch will include three drive-through lanes to access a teller and ATM, all at ground level.
Rees Masilionis Turley Architecture is working on the new design. The general contractor has yet to be selected.
The new construction will mark the second big change for the heavily trafficked corner which, from the late 1950s until the late 1970s, housed Allen’s Drive-In, a popular hangout. Filmmaker Robert Altman considered Allen’s archetypal enough to use it as a 1957 movie location for “The Delinquents.”