‘Boatmen?s/NationsBank Staying Downtown

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Boatmen’s Bank becomes NationsBank on Aug. 18 but changes are already under way as the Arkansas institutions adapt to NationsBank’s style and format.

But one change that won’t happen is abandonment of the downtown Fayetteville bank building. CEO James Stobaugh says the bank has no plans to sell the building, which occupies the east side of the square.

‘He thinks the rumor may have been spurred by recent leasing activity in the building. Ironically, Stobaugh notes, much of the building was leased out when he arrived in Northwest Arkansas in 1992. The bank had reclaimed most of the space but now, with room available again, leasing has resumed.

•Stobaugh says the bank will retain use of the main or first floor. The second floor, with the exception of his office space as well as the retail banking department, is already leased. Negotiations are under way that complete leasing of the third floor. Still available, however, may be some basement space. “I think there’s a good part of that that would absolutely be good” for offices, Stobaugh says.

NationsBank is closing several branches in Arkansas, including two in Fayetteville, and that leaves speculation about what will happen to those facilities. Some in the banking industry say they’ve heard NationsBank won’t sell to competitors, but Stobaugh says that’s not necessarily true. Already the bank has received inquiries from interested buyers, both financial institutions and other businesses, but no decision has been reached yet, he says.

The Fayetteville branches slated for closing are at North Hills Medical Park and at East Oaks.