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Saint Louis Bank Leases Former L’Ecole Culinaire Building for New Office

Working with Jeff Altvater and Rebecca Thessen of Hilliker Corporation, this bank will connect with more entrepreneurs thanks to a prominent location on the I-64 corridor.
Saint Louis Bank Leases Former L’Ecole Culinaire Building for New Office

Written By Cory Edwards

On April 17, 2020

Proud to Be Local

Saint Louis Bank Leases Former L’Ecole Culinaire Building for New OfficeSaint Louis Bank is a locally owned institution created to be the preferred banking partner for small and mid-sized businesses. Its mindset is regional rather than national, all about growing local companies and reinvesting in the St. Louis area.

According to Jermal Seward, the bank’s Chief People Officer, “We believe, ‘So goes our region’s businesses, so goes our region.’ We are dedicated to being the banking partner for our area’s businesses.”

Founded in 2005, Saint Louis Bank hit the ground running after raising more capital than any de novo bank in Missouri’s history. (A “de novo” refers to a newly charted bank that is not acquired through purchase).

The idea of “high-tech and high-touch” is critical to their business model. From the beginning, they invested significantly in banking and business technologies as they became available.

But unlike online-only banks, Saint Louis Bank intentionally built the client service side of its business to be local and client-centric. Their team members are willing to leave the office and travel to their client’s location. This strategy is revolutionary in an era when banks tend to scale down client-facing staff.

But the “we come to you” service meant they didn’t design their home base to receive more than a few clients at a time. At 20,000 square feet, it was only enough for their staff of sixty people.

Now, they’re preparing to further enhance the way they do business. One result is a new approach to their real estate.

New Plans Call for New Commercial Office Space

Saint Louis Bank Leases Former L’Ecole Culinaire Building for New Office - Travis LiebigIn 2018, Travis Liebig, formerly of Simmons Bank, acquired Saint Louis Bank with big plans.

First, Liebig set a goal to grow the institution from $450 million in assets to $1 billion over three years. To support that, Saint Louis Bank need[ed] to make more room for its expanding team, which they plan to grow 10% yearly for the next several years.

Additionally, Liebig wants to create space for clients and the community to come and do business—the Bank will soon have branches in Maplewood and Edwardsville. He also wants to grow their home office’s ability to receive clients. Their current leased space in Town and Country isn’t designed to support that.

Rebecca SuenTo find the right space for their new goals, they called on Rebecca Thessen and Jeff Altvater of Hilliker Corporation. Saint Louis Bank began looking for space acrossSt. Louis regionwith an emphasis on three considerations: accessibility, visibility, and growth potential. With these factors in mind, Thessen and Altvater presented Saint Louis Bank an extraordinary commercial property. They believed it could mean more to Saint Louis Bank than merely home office space.

It could be a billboard.

Raising Saint Louis Bank’s Profile

Jeffrey J. AltvaterHilliker has displayed its big red “H” on the L’Ecole Culinaire building since 2018. Visible from I-64 in Ladue, approximately 154,000 cars pass that sign daily.

However, Vatterott Educational Centers, owners of L’Ecole Culinaire, filed for receivership in 2017. The building at 9811 South Forty Drive was filled with commercial kitchen equipment for class use. Unfortunately, they couldn’t sell the equipment until the terms of the bankruptcy had been finalized.

The building’s owners, Southern Real Estate & Financial, asked Thessen and Altvater to find a new lessee once the space was ready. As soon as Vaderott completed proceedings in late 2019, all parties involved worked together quickly to clean out the building and prepare it for lease.

The timing for Saint Louis Bank couldn’t have been better. With 26,978 square feet and two floors of space, they’re planning on renovating the first floor immediately, growing into the second soon after. The first floor will include open space and bank professionals for client interaction.

Since Altvater and Thessen knew the needs of both the landlords and the Bank, they were able to quickly and effectively negotiate a win-win long term lease. The process was low-stress and cordial, allowing the two companies to start their relationship off on the right foot.

The $2 million renovation project is underway now, with costs shared by both Saint Louis Bank and the Cella family. The Bank plans to begin its transition to its new location May 1, to be completed by June 30.

Focusing on Growth

Saint Louis Bank Leases Former L’Ecole Culinaire Building for New Office

Seward commented, “The new, more centralized headquarters re-emphasizes the Bank’s original goal of being high-tech and high-touch while simultaneously addressing its three critical. With this move secured, we’ll be able to turn our focus more directly toward growth—being the banking partner for our region’s businesses.”

Liebig wasn’t available for comment, but Seward passed on the company’s satisfaction with the team of Thessen and Altvater. “They took the time to understand our growth needs and what we’re trying to do. All in all, it’s been a pleasure. They were great partners who made the process very easy.”

Commercial Real Estate Brokers at Hilliker Understand Your Goals

In business, timing is everything. To accomplish your organization’s objectives, when you see an opportunity, you have to take it, moving as quickly and efficiently as possible.

And when you bring an outside partner into the equation, you hope they’ll move with you. It’s crucial to have partners who understand you, your needs, and your timeline. Then, you need them to act quickly, efficiently, and with your best interests at heart.

If you need a partner to help you make a commercial real estate transition, Hilliker Corporation is the entrepreneur’s choice. For more on how we can help you, contact Rebecca Thessen or Jeff Altvater.

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