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Revival-style, the design of the bank expresses an image of permanence and security. The exterior is clad entirely in ornamental terra cotta. Large windows are divided by engaged pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals, and a prominent cornice wraps around the rounded corners of the buildingJust as the Northwestern Trust and Savings was described as a Polish bank, Joseph's was described as "the Jewish Noel State Bank." The grid of the enormous ceiling resolves into six-point Stars of David.
Nike in 2010.
"We spent from March of 2010 until June of this year rehabilitating this building," says Mike DeFazio, Walgreens Senior Director of Store Concepts. "We cleaned it, restored it back to the original look. The lighting is all original lighting. We restored it all. We pulled the skylight out, sent it out and had it resorted back to its original specifications."
"He allowed us to put a Duane Reade inside of one of his buildings," continues DeFazio, "but it's done in a way that it protected the architecture. And it created an atmosphere that was OK for his building. And that says something, because he's very particular."
The most radical part of the Walgreens at Noel State Bank is not the added emphasis on pre-packaged foods and other convenience products. It's that there simply wasn't enough space on the main floor, however huge, to hold all the product, so categories have been split up.
"Usually beauty and health are together, "explains DeFazio. "Convenience [the category] always has to be convenient. Otherwise we'd have to call it something besides convenience, right? And it's always usually with cash [checkout], so wherever cash is, we usually have convenience. If you look at a prototypical Walgreens, you go in through beauty, you cycle through health, you come out through convenience, you pay. It's kind of a round store, right?"
"Total box is 29,000 square feet and change. Selling square footage is about 19. We break it out three ways, This is about 11,000 square feet on the main level, the upper level's about 4, downstairs is the same size, but half of it is stock area. That was driven by the vaults that are downstairs. It was just cost-prohibitive to take them out." One of the vaults is used for storage. The other has been pressed into service as the "Vitamin Vault", with a display of old products along the wall of safety deposit boxes.
|photo courtesy of Walgreens|
The new flagship makes the building's history an integral part of the design. An original blueprint and other drawings found in a box discovered tucked away in the basement have been framed and put on display, as is a passbook from the original bank. Vintage photographs are mounted just below the ceiling of the Vitamin Vault.
Dan Garneau, the Regional Development Manager who was the company's architect on the project, explains:
"Our building wall is right on the property line. It's a vaulted sidewalk, and the vault continues into our lower level. Part of our space is the vault underneath the city sidewalk. Water was coming down into the vault. We had a lower level that was basically an empty shell of space, unused for anything apart from storage and mechanical. The last tenant was Midwest Bank. They used the area in the vault - a very small area - and then sort of left the rest of it go to nature. So we had extensive structural work needed to make sure the vault was secure. A lot of waterproofing. A lot of drains and drain tile."
|photo: Google Maps|