Sarah Foster

First Financial Bank has closed its two former Oxford locations and reopened under the loft apartments at Stewart Square. The new bank design is the first of its kind for the company.

First Financial Bank is now open at Stewart Square after consolidating its two former locations in Oxford.

The bank opened at its new location Dec. 10 and now hopes to offer more services and additional technologies to benefit customers, according to Mark Barker, vice president First Financial Bank.

This new bank model in Oxford is the first of its kind for the future of First Financial Bank offices.

Baker said the new bank has a full-service lobby with increased personnel for faster service and an expanded three-lane drive-thru service. There are also two ATMs-a drive up and a walk up-both open 24 hours.

This consolidation was necessary for several reasons, Barker said. From a business standpoint, he said it makes more economical sense to have one large bank instead of two, especially in a town the size of Oxford.

“We felt like this consolidation would help us better serve the client,” Barker said.

In order to attempt to better serve customers, the bank was expanded in size and offers increased technologies.

Barker said that First Financial is on a five-year timeline to introduce this look across the entire market. There are four other projects on the table for 2008, he said. These projects include bank constructions or remodels to introduce the bank’s new look and services.

Barker said that one of the perks of having the bigger office at Stewart Square is being so close to the students who live in the loft apartments above.

Pam Lindley, manager of Hotel Development Services, the property owners of Stewart Square, said that the process of putting the bank into Stewart Square was relatively easy.

“Overall, it was a very smooth transition,” she said. “First Financials contractor was very good to work with and the interior finish is gorgeous.”

Barker agreed, and said that weekly conference calls via the regional office, Oxford office and Stewart Square made it easier to communicate building information.

First Financial Bank decided to build the new bank two years ago, and then approached Stewart Square with a proposal. After the prototype was finished, the construction process, from start to finish took about seven months.

Lindley said she thinks the bank is a great addition to Stewart Square and will provide another reason to shop at the development.

“The new bank allows Stewart Square to be an easy location to get many things done at one easy, accessible location with plenty of parking,” Lindley said. “There is ample parking around the bank for easy in-out for customers and is centrally located for anyone who used to bank uptown or at their McGuffey branch.”

Lindley also said that all walk up traffic, especially students, have the convenience of a 24/7 interior ATM at the bank’s entrance. 

Some of the amenities that the bank offers are plasma screens in the lobby describing banking services, as well as showing local and national news, stocks of local interest and weather information, according to Baker. Video monitors in the drive-thru lanes will provide similar information.

“Out ultimate goal is to serve our clients in the best manner possible and additional technology will help us better do that,” Baker said.

The bank’s former locations were on McGuffey Avenue and High Street. Baker said that the ATM on High Street will remain in service, but the other two locations have closed their doors.

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