CROWN POINT | Art, music and nature blended Thursday during Centier Bank’s unveiling of its newly renovated downtown office at 117 E. Joliet St.
The evening business reception centered on the new East Plaza Courtyard that features a water fountain, tiered green space and benches.
“Enjoy the garden,” Centier President/CEO Michael E. Schrage told dozens of invited guests. “We have created a sparkling eastern gateway for the downtown.”
The outdoor courtyard was started earlier this year on the site of the original bank, which was demolished.
As Schrage spoke, the fountain was turned on to the applause of guests.
The Schafer Trio from Valparaiso played soft jazz during the reception and Valparaiso artist Linda Eyermann created a painting of the fountain with the Crown Point Post Office in the background. The painting will be raffled off with all funds going to the South Shore Arts children’s program, Schrage said.
Inside the new bank lobby, an exhibit of children’s art highlighted the South Shore Arts program, which is supported by Centier.
The new banking center was designed in the image of the Centier Corporate Center that opened in Merrillville in 2008. The new bank building will house investment and retail banking services, said Angela Jimenez, Centier spokesperson.
The original structure on Joliet Street dated to 1917 and over the years had been a furniture store and a Sears outlet, Jimenez said.
In the 1970s, the building became home to First National Bank of Crown Point.
Schrage saluted the partnership that brought that bank into the First Bank of Whiting family in 1982, as well as the commitment by Crown Point officials.
“This is a wonderful partnership,” he said. “This is a partnership that will last for centuries.”
Rebuilding the Centier branch began a year ago. The project included additional parking at Hack Court and renovation of the existing green space on the bank’s west side at Joliet and Main streets.
“We carefully planned this project to avoid any disruption in the day-to-day service that we provide to our Crown Point clients,” said Carol Highsmith, Centier senior partner and project manager. “We decided that the space would be better utilized by our clients if we were to remodel the branch.”
Kevin Stevens, chief of staff to Mayor David Uran, said city officials are “very grateful that Centier stayed in the city and is continuing to invest in Crown Point."
“They’ve made tremendous changes to this area that will bring more people to the downtown,” Stevens said.