Business First Bank said it will move its headquarters from Jefferson Highway into a historic building downtown at 500 Laurel St.

Business First will take up four floors of the six-story building at Laurel and Fifth streets. Built in the late 1950s as the Union Federal Savings & Loan building, 500 Laurel was designed by noted architect A. Hays Town. The building is undergoing an extensive renovation to prepare it for the bank.

“We are proud to be the only community bank in Louisiana choosing to establish its headquarters in our capital’s downtown area, one that is rapidly and visibly transforming,” said Jude Melville, Business First Bank’s president and chief executive officer. “In addition to providing another location for our growing client base, this move is an opportunity for our bank to contribute to our community both as an investor in the preservation of its history and as a committed participant in the building of its future.”

Plans are to move the Business First headquarters from 8440 Jefferson Highway to downtown by spring. About 65 bank employees will work in the building.

Business First will offer a full range of banking services, including a drive-through, treasury management, wealth solutions and corporate offices.

The 500 Laurel building is being redeveloped by architect Dyke Nelson and his business partner, David Weinstein. The two men have redeveloped several properties downtown, including the 440 on Third mixed-use development and the Tessier building on Lafayette Street.

Nelson said the building will receive historic tax credits and will be listed on the National Register of Historic Places through the U.S. National Park Service.

Business First Bank was founded in 2006, with former Gov. Buddy Roemer serving as its first president and chief executive. Last year, the bank acquired American Gateway Financial Corp., a move that gave it $1 billion in assets and 16 branches.

While Business First is leaving its Jefferson Highway offices, the bank is keeping a branch open at 7880 Jefferson that it acquired as part of the American Gateway merger.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.