Investment firm plans future in historic bank building – The Oakland Press
At the corner of Farmington and Grand River Roads is a monument to Farmington’s past and also a glimpse of its future.
A March 4, 1921 article in the Farmington Enterprise predicted that the enormous brick and stone building of the Farmington State Savings Bank “would usher in a new era in the life of Farmington Village.”
Almost a century after the bank building opened in 1922, GLP Financial Group has similar hopes for the renovated 12,000 square foot structure, which is part of a 33,000 square foot business block in Farmington town center that the company now owns.
âWe want this to be a centerpiece,â says Alex Kocoves, CEO and Chairman of the Board of GLP. âWe want to see the growth of the community. It is a great place. We could do better.
Just as the Farmington State Savings Bank, founded by Farmington settler PD Warner in 1910, sought to build a “modern bank building,” as he put it to the Enterprise, so GLP is seeking to modernize the known giant structure. more recently under the Village Mall name, while maintaining the iconic building’s historic footprint.
A unique opportunity
In 2019, financial planning firm GLP, founded in 1969, was looking to save money on growing rent expenses by purchasing a corporate office. While there were many buildings in the market, nothing looked right. âEach building we looked at was a large rectangle,â says Kocoves.
Birmingham-based Biddison Architecture and Royal Oak-based Ronnisch Construction Group worked together to transform the 1939 Birmingham Post Office into the headquarters of The Nickow Company, maintaining the exterior of the building and renovating the interior in modern offices. Could GLP do something similar?
The Village Mall, formerly known as Farmington State Savings Bank, was for sale and in need of loving care. The interior had been subdivided into stores over the years, sporting many layers of wallpaper, old plumbing that might not even have been used, and a lot of other quirks.
âThey just built on (the) top of everything,â Kocoves says.
Nonetheless, Kocoves and GLP Chairman Matt DeSantos can see the future of their business in downtown Farmington. âThere’s a vibe to it,â says Kocoves, who saw the renovation as a catalyst to create more traffic and prosperity for the city center.
The large bank building was part of a block of properties that included eight apartments and about 10 other businesses along the Grand River and Farmington Roads, which now rent to GLP. A few tenants in the Village Mall building had to move. PLUS Skateboarding, which occupied the basement of the building, joined other GLP-owned retail spaces along the Grand River. GLP also set up temporary offices there, leaving its Farmington Hills office at 12 Mile and Halsted Roads.
Today passers-by may notice the initials “FSB” well above the diagonal entrance to the bank and the lettering “Farmington State Savings Bank” on the sides facing Grand River and Farmington Roads.
âWe always wanted to maintain the integrity of the exterior of the building,â explains Kocoves, explaining that the initial plan to sand and restore the exterior limestone turned out to be too long and expensive. Instead, the builders removed the designations and coats of paint from the Village Mall, giving the exterior a fresh coat of paint that mimics the limestone look of the 1920s.
Interior plans include maintaining an open floor plan with floor-to-ceiling visibility. The new space will have three floors: the basement, where the main bank safe was located; the ground floor, which housed the reception hall and the original counters; and a newly created upper floor with glass-fronted offices. An internal staircase will lead to the upper and lower floors, but the addition of an elevator was required by the building code.
GLP aimed to restore the original marble floors, but they were too damaged, as was the Fraser Fir coffered ceiling. The large windows had to be enlarged a bit so they extend further down to the floor in the downstairs offices. But the overall goal is to merge the modern with the historical.
The large safe, which was “where the real money was kept” in the original bank, according to Kocoves, will be pictured at GLP headquarters. There are plans to lift the heavy vault door – weighing over 10,000 pounds, according to a March 1922 Farmington Enterprise article – from the basement and mount it to a third-story wall visible to visitors.
Kocoves joked that the builders didn’t find Jimmy Hoffa’s remains in the old structure, but they did find some historical remains, including a former sweatshop. Located underneath what is now the Evolve Body Art Studio, the small room bears evidence of a quick-locking system for doors to escape the police. âThey had a rope to pull and it would lock the door if the cops came,â Kocoves says. He hopes someone will reopen the sweatshop after the basement is renovated.
The head office will house 25 GLP staff as well as some 150 traveling representatives who visit regularly and need a welcoming “home base,” Kocoves says. The attractive building will feature an executive lounge in one of the top-floor apartments, an employee lounge, an exercise area, a rooftop picnic area and – Kocoves willing – a golf simulator. in the basement to chase away the cold blues.
Room to grow, a place in the community
In addition to providing an impressive building to attract customers and employees, the renovated building will provide plenty of space to expand as the business grows. Kocoves hinted that GLP has nearly doubled its revenue this year, mainly due to increased activity related to virtual wealth management meetings.
Moreover, even with the rising prices of building materials and delays associated with the pandemic, Kocoves says the decision to buy the building from the bank is still financially sound. With paying tenants and no rent payments, GLP saves a lot on overhead.
âThe big picture is to be part of a community,â says Kocoves. Owning the iconic building block in downtown Farmington strengthens BPL in the community and provides the opportunity to attract better and more retailers, he says.
In 1921, when Farmington State Savings Bank opened its new building, feelings were similar. As commercial space is scarce, bank managers “have decided to initiate a project to build and improve Farmington,” according to the Farmington Enterprise article. The project included removing the unused Owen Hotel from the property, constructing the stately bank building, and adding several apartments, offices, and stores to create a ‘Farmington business block that every citizen can refer to. a feeling of satisfaction â.
Much like the Open House hosted by Farmington State Savings Bank in March 1922, GLP plans to hold large openings for the community and local businesses in the spring, when interior renovations are complete.