Will Winberie's become Wintrust Bank?

Bank heads to zoning board

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

Wintrust Bank subsidiary Hinsdale Bank & Trust is banking on opening a new Oak Park branch in the space that long housed Winberie's restaurant, 151 N. Oak Park Ave., in the Hemingway District's Scoville Square building.

"While Wintrust is a financial service holding company, it's a huge believer that banking should be hyperlocal," said Dennis Jones, Hinsdale Bank chair. 

According to Jones, Wintrust has a "desire to be Chicago's bank."

"And if you desire to be Chicago's bank, you ought to be in Oak Park," said Jones, whose four children attended Fenwick High School. Jones lives in Hinsdale.

 Hinsdale Bank is one of 15 distinct banks under the Wintrust Bank umbrella. Hinsdale Bank itself has multiple branches, including one in Western Springs, Riverside and Maywood. 

This October, Hinsdale Bank will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to request zoning relief to operate a bank out of the Winberie's space. Currently, the location is zoned retail only. 

Hinsdale Bank has been interested in opening a branch in Oak Park for many years, but felt the market cornered.

"Our niche hyper local community banking was being done well in Oak Park, through the Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest," said Jones.

With the purchase of the Community Bank by Byline Bank, Hinsdale Bank found an opportunity to enter the Oak Park market and "redoubled" its efforts.

"Byline's a fine bank," Jones said. "I just don't believe they have this hyper local feel of trying to provide the full range of banking services in this community.

 Jones began discussions with the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation (OPEDC) in earnest last year. OPEDC has provided a letter of recommendation for Hinsdale Bank to the village of Oak Park.

According to Jones, they looked at several possible Oak Park locations, including the former Pier 1 spot on Lake Street near Harlem. None of the spots made sense.

Jones called the availability of Winberie's location "serendipitous." The lease was signed a couple of weeks ago. 

"We think the Scoville Square space, which is in a building that's on the national registry in a neighborhood on the national registry, while in a business district, sort of fits who we are," said Jones. "It's hometown banking."

The Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission gave Hinsdale Bank its approval to make minor changes to the space, including adding windows on its north side to give the interior more natural light. Hinsdale Bank has hired local architect Douglas Gilbert for the project; Gilbert previously served on the Historic Preservation Commission.

Hinsdale Bank intends to create a historical Oak Park display in the end window, which cannot serve as a true window due to safety concerns. 

"We're an organization that really likes to fit in; we don't like to be heavy-handed in trying to get into a community because we intend to be there for a long, long time," Jones. 

Hinsdale Bank will not put in a drive-thru at the Oak Park branch. However, the space is roughly 5,000 square feet, making it conducive for traditional full-service banking.

"We have all those capabilities for people to bank digitally. But when it comes to small businesses, problem solving, trusted investment advisory and mortgage operations," Jones said, "We still think it makes sense to have a physical presence."

If all goes according to plan, Jones hopes the Oak Park branch will open in the first quarter of next year but says realistically, the branch will likely open in the second quarter.

"Right now, the banking in Oak Park is dominated by two large players, Chase and U.S. Bank and they're very good," said Jones. "We think our approach is just a little bit different, particularly as it relates to being community bankers."

According to Jones, Wintrust and Hinsdale Bank intend to "enhance the fabric of the community," while providing "top notch banking services" with an emphasis on hiring local talent. That goes for the Oak Park branch as well.

"The ideal person to lead that office for us will be an Oak Parker." 

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Reader Comments

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William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: September 25th, 2020 11:08 AM

I covered the story. I read all the docs and I know the facts. And I know proposals aren't final projects. People like T Mac and others have legitimate criticisms to make about OP governance and values. Hell, I agree with some of them. But apparently y'all feel the need to overstate your arguments and make up facts.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: September 24th, 2020 11:34 PM

Yeah William, Tom cited pool cost was a bit overly dramatic (probably out of sheer frustration which I and many others happen to share) and he may likely and reasonably have thought Plan "C" at $53.5 M (not including likely cost over runs which would have brought this to $60M territory) was the pool initiative in question. Well what was finally submitted for approval by the voters of D200 (in Nov 2016) was Plan "B". But at a cost of $43.5 M that was still a big number. And that did not even include the very likely cost over runs that were sure to arise. Most of the costs were in fact related to the pool ? not quite Olympic sized, but big enough: 40 meters by 25 yards. The "school room" stuff appended to the pool construction, was window dressing: an attempt to hide a giant swimming pool project within a theatre-arts initiative. The voters saw through this subterfuge and Plan "B" was narrowly rejected ?" despite a full court press by D200 and the well funded VoteYES swimming advocates. Of course you resided in FP, so you really have no idea what went down here in 2016. And I might add, that your sarcastic outright dismissal of Tom's statement in regard to the ginormous pool shows you really don't know the history of this project, let alone that it initially involved the proposed construction of an Olympic sized giant, housed in an enormous natatorium. https://campussuite-storage.s3.amazonaws.com/prod/1558748/bd01c7ae-765f-11e9-9402-0a56f8be964e/1931812/d95b471e-7e01-11e9-8989-0a3ecb9d58a0/file/LTFPComparisonChart_July2016_FINAL.pdf https://www.oprfhs.org/facilities/current-pool-updates

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: September 24th, 2020 8:15 PM

I'll leave imaging things to you. T Mac.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 24th, 2020 7:58 PM

Just start Imagining the pool William, it is the project that can't be voted away.

Marty Bracco  

Posted: September 24th, 2020 2:46 PM

It's great that Wintrust will be taking that space. If you've visited any of their branches, they integrate very nicely into the area and are understated in the design. I only wish that they'd been the bank to acquire CBOPRF instead of ByLine. We've been customers of Hinsdale Bank since it's opening, and they'll serve Oak Park very very well.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: September 24th, 2020 12:06 PM

"$60 million olympic pools"? Why, that would be just fiscally irresponsible... if it was true. The proposed OPRF pool is Olympic size and no where remotely near $60 million. And the Ridgeland Commons pool was part of a comprehensive $30 million rehab of the entire block-square facility. Has anyone spotted a big ol' Olympic-sized pool somewhere in the village that was somehow snuck past us?

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 24th, 2020 9:08 AM

The responsibility for the loss of local businesses rests squarely on the various local government entities that keep raising property taxes to fund their pet projects. And forcing higher wages and bag fees and so on. We are getting empty storefronts with dead businesses in exchange for so called free day care, social workers in libraries, another Park District building filled with subsidized programs, annual cash infusions to the non-performing Housing Center and $60 million olympic pools. At least a bank pays rent and provides a few jobs and lunch customers for the remaining local restaurants clinging for survival. We are lucky to get anything in that spot. There is no line of willing investors standing behind that bank.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: September 24th, 2020 2:36 AM

How the little sheeple fall in line with whatever the banking and real estate industries want. Nauseating. This is same crowd that grooves on the idea of high rises next to Unity Temple and predatory real estate "development" that is just an excuse for a cash grab by another fascist adjacent corporate scheme to make the rich richer and destroy the character of our Village.

Terry Stanton  

Posted: September 23rd, 2020 6:16 PM

I thought the scourge of every space turning into a bank branch was over. That said, I'll happily bail from Byline which devoured the true Community Bank we had, and switch to Wintrust. Furthermore, Byline is planning to close branches; won't be surprised to see the one on OP Ave close, or the River Forest branch.

Garett Auriemma  

Posted: September 23rd, 2020 5:42 PM

Why would they need such a large space for a physical bank in 2020? Banks are moving away from big spaces and into smaller spaces with drive-up windows.

Michael O'Malley  

Posted: September 23rd, 2020 5:26 PM

Hemingway must be turning in his grave. First retail, now banking.

Andrew Johnston  

Posted: September 23rd, 2020 5:13 PM

Does anyone under the age of 50 go into brick-and-mortar banks anymore?

Debbie Becker  

Posted: September 23rd, 2020 4:40 PM

It's a Win-Win situation.

Heidi Ruehle  

Posted: September 23rd, 2020 4:19 PM

Doug Gilbert will do a fantastic job of integrating the bank into this beautiful historic space. Although another restaurant or boutique shop would be ideal, given the current economic circumstances filling this large space with a strong tenant will help renew the vitality of the Hemingway Business District that has seen so many small businesses suffer. Now if we can only get the former Marshall Fields/Borders space developed...

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: September 23rd, 2020 3:16 PM

Oh, please no. The Oak Park / Lake district is for entertainment and dining, not for another effing bank. What a terrible idea.

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