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Behemoth bank with commanding viewTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Kirk Nichols gazes up at the east side of the three-story bank, Feb. 12.
Photo by George Lauby
Outdoor patio on third floor with commanding view of traffic entering North Platte on Dewey St. (U.S. Highway 83)
Photo by George Lauby
Nichols, foreground, dwarfed by the main entrance of the building. The openings in the roof will be skylights.
Courtesy Photo­Image
Frames for roomy first floor offices
Photo by George Lauby
Two main elevators inside. A staircase (at bottom) will circle and reach the second floor when it's built.
Photo by George Lauby
View of one-ways, looking north from third floor
Photo by George Lauby
Staircase off the main entrance.

Kirk Nichols winced a bit as he climbed the stairs at North Platte’s largest construction project -- the new Nebraskaland National Bank building.

Nichols, the construction manager, walks on two artificial knees through a building that is comparable in size to a football field, or an indoor arena.

But Nichols doesn’t mind.

He’s having fun.

Nichols, who has overseen several major construction projects in North Platte, including the Lincoln County’s jail and sheriff’s offices, said this crew is busy every day on this job, no matter the weather.

They are making good progress.

The steel high on the top floor was set during the coldest days of the winter, testifying to the toughness of the crew, Nichols said.

Nearly 40 workers were working Feb. 12 and despite a freezing wind chill, no heaters were running.

“We should be ahead of schedule by the end of February,” Nichols said. “We are getting ahead of some of the suppliers already.”

The bank is scheduled to open in October.

At 230-feet long, the new building approaches the length of a football field (300 ft.) It is 75 feet wide, depending on where you stand — half as wide as a football field. It also has three stories plus a full basement, while a football field is on one level.

The building starts 15 feet below ground and rises nearly 50 feet above it.

It is the size of an indoor arena.

And the building looks a little like a ship, with rounded edges and decks on the south side, as though it would sail southward toward the South Platte River if it could.

Although it is made of concrete and steel, it will have lots of glass, offering dramatic views of traffic rolling around town.

The rounded decks on the south end will cast shade on the south windows during the summer.

Nichols considers it a relatively simple, durable, spacious building. There will be room inside for growth if the bank becomes even busier.

Interiors walls are already up in the basement and the walls are going up on the first floor. The basement will contain computer storage and servers, utility systems, general storage, a break room and employee lockers.

The basement is protected from a high water table by a waterproof envelope. Drains buried around the outside of the building carry runoff water, as well as underground water if necessary, into the city's storm sewer pipes.

Inside on the first floor, personal bankers and tellers will work at spacious counters and offices. There is room for a coffee shop or restaurant on the south end of the first floor.

The second floor is for loan offices, executive offices and conference rooms.

The board of directors will meet in an executive conference room on the top floor, where there will also be a covered patio that looks out a Dewey St. and traffic coming straight into town. Office space will be available for rent on the third floor, Nichols said.

There will be three elevators plus two full sets of stairways in the building.

Heat and cooling will come form a geo-thermal system — 101 pipes run 300 feet deep outside around the building and come back, carrying fluid that it is naturally heated and cooled by the earth’s constant 55 degree temperature.

K2 Construction of Lincoln has about 20 more pipes to bury to complete that part of the project. K2 was digging a well Tuesday, working in the cold and wet – another example of tenacity.

Nichols, who was construction manager for Wells Fargo, Tier One and the first Nebraskaland National Bank, as well as the Platte River Mall, said architect Jacob Sertech of Wilkins, Hinrichs and Stober of Kearney has done an excellent job of designing the building and responds promptly to questions and change orders.

There are 30 companies working on the building. The average age of the crew is 35 years old, he said.

“They are really good workers,” Nichols said. “They have never missed a day. Everyone is getting along.”

“I am really pleased with how well they work,” Nichols said.

Those from North Platte include Snell’s Plumbing, Denny Hansen Construction, Platte Valley Electric, AJ’s Sheet Metal, Western Engineering, Moreland Enterprises, Steele’s, Weathercraft Roofing and Nebraska Safety and Fire.

Most other companies are from central Nebraska, including Midwest Partitions of Thedford and Central Nebraska Steel of Kearney.

“We’ve tried to hire local companies, using those who can get the job done during our time frame and can handle a project of this scale,” Nichols said.

“It’s not all that bad (cold),” Dave Mashek of Platte Valley Electric said as he worked in coat and gloves in the basement. “Two weeks ago, when it was around 10 degrees — that was cold.”

This report was published first in the Feb. 13 print edition of The North Platte Bulletin.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/1/2013
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