Equity Bank on Friday signed a contract to purchase land for a full-service branch north at the Waterfront Plaza development at 13th and Webb.
Brad Elliott, Equity’s CEO, said the bank hopes to begin construction before the end of the year on a 6,000- to 8,000-square-foot, freestanding building that will house the branch, north of the planned Whole Foods Market store.
The Waterfront Plaza location, near the northwest corner of 13th and Webb, will replace an existing branch at 555 N. Webb, near Central.
Elliott said he hopes to open the new branch in September 2014.
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Shelden Architecture will design the building. Selection of a general contractor is pending.
He said the seven employees at the Central and Webb branch will staff the new one. He also said the new branch will likely offer different delivery of services using technology.
The Waterfront Plaza branch will be the first branch Equity has constructed in Wichita. Elliott said the $1.2 billion, Andover-based bank has constructed new branches in Overland Park and Lee’s Summit, Mo.
The Central and Webb branch was originally built by the National Bank of Andover, Equity’s predecessor.
Elliott said the bank had been considering relocating the branch for some time.
“We’ve been looking around at options for the branch,” he said. “When we heard what was going into that location (Waterfront Plaza), we became very interested.”
He said customers of Whole Foods “fit very well” with Equity’s customers. While the new grocery store will be operated by Whole Foods Market, it won’t carry the same name as the unaffiliated Whole Foods stores that are already in operation by the locally founded Whole Foods Association.
The new location allows Equity to move into an area with more retail business, as well.
“There’s just not a lot of retail draw around where Central and Webb is,” Elliott said. “It’s more of a manufacturing area. … We think the corner (of 13th and Webb) will become a very high-draw corner in town.”
He said the bank will occupy a half to three-quarters of the new building. The remaining space, anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 square feet, will be available for lease.
Equity operates four branches in the Wichita area, and 31 total in Kansas and Missouri.