Breaking News Bar
posted: 11/23/2019 7:28 AM

What’s next for empty bank buildings in the Fox Valley?

Success - Article sent! close
  • The Bank of America branch at Fabyan Parkway and Randall Road in Batavia is among many shuttered bank branches in the area.

    The Bank of America branch at Fabyan Parkway and Randall Road in Batavia is among many shuttered bank branches in the area.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


It isn't difficult to spot one. They are all over the Tri-Cities and Kane County area.

We wonder what will happen to empty retail storefronts or restaurants, but another "empty building" scourge has been unfolding for years -- bank buildings or, more specifically, bank branches.

Those empty sites appear in downtown areas as well as along major retail centers on Randall Road, from Elgin to Aurora, or along Main Street in St. Charles.

Large downtown bank buildings from the 1950s and '60s have become restaurants, such as 302 West and then EvenFlow in Geneva, or fitness centers and office buildings in St. Charles.

As for branches, you can see two empty ones in Batavia along Randall in the same strip, with a Bank of America building at the corner of Randall and Fabyan Parkway, and a long-empty PNC Bank site just to the south of it along a frontage road.

An empty bank branch in St. Charles recently became Main Street Church, but a bank building on East Main, Street just east of the SavWay Liquors store, has been empty for a long time.

The list could go on and on. But, more importantly, what's next for these empty bank buildings?

It's not uncommon to see banks trying to recreate branches they still operate. Capital One comes to mind as one converting them into something that would resemble a coffee shop more than a place for taking out loans or setting up a financial portfolio.

Others are experimenting with setting up coworking atmospheres, where small businesses, maybe even clients of the bank, operate for a period of time before striking out on their own.

And if you think young consumers wouldn't mind seeing all of these empty bank branches somehow become Amazon locations in the future, then you don't know what triggers interest these days.

In fact, it is not a stretch to think Amazon would consider how to get banking or money-transfer licenses to vault itself into the financial services space in the future.

Banks set themselves up with small operations in malls or inside big department stores in the past, so some kind of connection in that regard also wouldn't be outlandish.

Who's to say that the empty bank branch right in your neighborhood won't someday be a deli shop in which, by the way, you can talk to a financial consultant or bank teller, or at least an ATM operating like a virtual teller, at the same time you are eating that corned beef on rye or ordering a sandwich to go?

'Nutcracker' hits the stage:

Here's a trivia question for you about this Daily Herald columnist. Which holiday event did my wife and I audition for about 10 years ago, and actually earn a spot in the cast?

That would be "The Nutcracker" when it was staged through the State Street Dance Studio in Geneva and held at Norris Theater in St. Charles.

We never appeared in that production, mainly because the rehearsals took place on Sunday afternoons for several weeks before the show.

It would have been fun, but the Bears were actually pretty good at that time, and I could not give up that many weekends.

I would do it today in a minute if I thought we could somehow still do a Viennese waltz.

But that's for others to do now, and they will. And the young and old alike who make up the cast for these shows have certainly put in the time to do so.

"The Nutcracker" is being staged at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre through Fox Valley Ballet, and at 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, and 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, through the Engage Dance Theatre at the Norris Theater on the campus of St. Charles East High School.

Tickets for the shows are available at the theaters.

A 'Pure' coincidence:

Last summer, I mentioned my wife and I were talking about Jim Peterik of the Ides of March for some reason while driving into Geneva. The second we got out of the car, we ran into Peterik, the band's famous frontman, walking down the street.

It was a strange, and close to unbelievable, coincidence considering the odds of such a thing happening.

It must be something that happens to folks as they get older and reminisce about things in their past.

Last weekend, we were talking about music from 1977, while it was being highlighted on WXRT on the radio. Though we didn't hear this band during the radio show, I said I liked the country rock of Pure Prairie League back in those days.

I hadn't mentioned that band probably since 1977.

We went to an anniversary party for friends at the Old Towne Pub in Wasco that night and a band called Tin Fiddle was performing.

The band was really good -- and one of the first songs it played? "Amie" by Pure Prairie League, of course. We looked at each other and just laughed.

Not familiar with the song? Google it. It's a catchy tune.

Beetle is back:

Not long after lamenting in a column that some of my favorite comic book characters no longer appear on the racks at comic book stores, the Daily Herald came to the rescue.

I may have mentioned that "Beetle Bailey" appeared to be long gone from most stores these days. So the newspaper provided a pleasant surprise in announcing that the silly and lazy Army private was back to torment Sgt. Snorkel daily in the newspaper comics section.

Beetle has been acting like a goof for nearly 70 years now, and he's pretty much been stuck at "Camp Swampy" the whole time.

I glance through the Herald comics religiously, and taking in the antics of Pvt. Carl James "Beetle" Bailey just adds to that enjoyable diversion.