By Kathy Gibbons
TRAVERSE CITY — Fifth Third Bank has completed $1.5 million in renovations to its historic downtown building.
Over the past year, the bank systematically worked through the property to make improvements inside and out. Fifth Third Traverse City Community President Mark Eckhoff said the project began with a complete redo of the exterior skin of the circa-1904 building to guard against deterioration.
The clock tower was redone, the dome repainted and gardens updated with new plantings and stone.
Starting from scratch, the main floor lobby was completely redone, with more space devoted to private offices and less for the teller area.
"The nature of banking over the years has changed," Eckhoff said. "It used to be that most customers went to the teller line. As time has evolved, the people who do a lot of the ordinary transactions — cashing checks, making deposits and withdrawals — a lot of that stuff is done by ATM machines, and a lot of people transfer between accounts on the computer."
Today, he said, more customers who come into the bank have other business and need to meet with bank representatives.
"We have more offices in that lobby now, and the walls go to the ceiling and there are doors so they can have confidential conversations," Eckhoff said.
All four floors received new carpet and paint, along with other updates. Mechanical improvements included a new air conditioning unit and boiler.
Fifth Third has about 50 employees in its trust and mortgage departments and retail and commercial banking operations downtown. The bank also rents out offices on its fourth floor.
The building last underwent major renovation about 25 years ago.