The rumor mill is a bit like playing a game of telephone, where someone whispers a sentence to one person and that whispered message is passed around a group. Inevitably, the message is badly mangled by the time it gets to the last person.
Such was the case with last week’s announcement that Baylake Bank is buying the Sister Bay Trading Company building at 2477 South Bay Shore Drive and moving its Sister Bay operations to that site. The Pulse office got a call from someone who was obviously at the end of that rumor mill, for the caller had heard the Bank of Luxemburg had bought the building.
“No it is not the Bank of Luxemburg. We’ll put that rumor to rest pretty quickly,” said Baylake Bank CEO Rob Cera.
Cera said Baylake had been considering a remodel of its current location at 2438 S. Bay Shore Drive.
“The way banking services are delivered has changed a great deal in the last five to 10 years,” Cera said. “We determined the physical layout of the Sister Bay branch didn’t reflect the way the bank wants to present itself in delivering services, so we looked at different options. We looked at some space planning. We looked at that option, and then became aware that another option might be presented to us. Marilyn Jensen [owner of Sister Bay Trading Company] had discussed with some of our bankers that the facility that she had existing would not meet her needs long-term, so we started to put our heads together. It really came about as a collaborative thing between the two of us.”
Once renovation begins, Sister Bay Trading Company will continue to provide custom interior design in the rear of their current building. As soon as possible, they will move into their new permanent home on the east side of the building.
“We are committed to providing the same services for our clients,” said Marilyn Jensen. “We are looking to the future and the growth of electronic design services. We will offer all of our current products, only in a smaller footprint.”
Cera said he hopes the community sees this is an example of good stewardship.
“We’re kind of recycling the existing facilities to maximize their usage,” he said. “We’re hoping people will see that not only as a good business decision, but also a good decision for the community in general. That facility is going to allow us to expand what we’re doing. It certainly gives us a bigger and more beautiful presence. That building is one of the most attractive in all of Sister Bay. It needs a little bit of paint I think, but other than that, it’s great. We’re hoping we’ll have all the internal remodel activities completed by Memorial Day.”
He added that much of the space planning for the new location has already been done.
“We’ve pretty much got the internal and external plans worked out. The physical presence of the building isn’t going to change much with the exception that we’ll add a drive-up to the south side of the building. Most of the changes will be internal.”
And what about the old bank building?
“We’re going to put it up for sale and see what alternatives come about,” Cera said. “It’s a great location. It’s got some nice attributes in terms of the amount of land and building proportions. There are lots of opportunities to redevelop that property. We’ll just see what the marketplace bears.”
“Both Baylake Bank and Sister Bay Trading Company are reliable employers for Door County,” Jensen said. “Next summer, we celebrate our 30th anniversary. Change and adaptability are part of business success. Like Baylake Bank, we are excited about the future and focused on continuing our customer service for years to come.”
Baylake Bank has a long history with the Sister Bay community, dating back to the original Bank of Sturgeon Bay Sister Bay Station opened in 1948 at 421 Maple Drive. Needing to expand, a new office was built at 2438 S. Bay Shore Drive and the new Sister Bay Branch opened on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1971. In 1984, a 2,400 square foot addition was completed. In 1994, The Bank of Sturgeon Bay and The State Bank of Kewaunee merged under the Baylake Bank name.
“We think this is a great expression of our excitement about Northern Door in general,” Cera said. “We kind of see Sister Bay as our Northern Door headquarters. Everything we do in other places within our footprint can actually be done in Sister Bay, so we’ve got great investment folks, we’ve got great mortgage folks, we’ve got our retail and commercial banking teams. Really, Sister Bay is such a big part of our franchise, we want to make sure everyone understands this is a major decision for us and a major commitment to that marketplace, hopefully for the next 100 years. It’s really exciting for us, and we really think it’s a great addition to Sister Bay. This is the next step forward into our future.”