FIRST AMERICA HEADING TO DOWNTOWN SARASOTA
First America heading to downtown Sarasota
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Another financial institution is heading to downtown Sarasota early next year.
First America Bank will open an office on the ground floor of the 1350 Main St. condominium now under construction at Main Street and Palm Avenue.
President Hank Goldsby says the bank is buying three of seven available commercial spots on the ground floor of the 17-story high-rise.
The Osprey-based bank is eager to get into Sarasota's thriving central business district.
"Downtown has a lot of great things going on there," Goldsby said.
First America opened for business two years ago. Its first office was actually in Bradenton. The bank opened a temporary office and has since moved into an 8,300-square-foot building in Osprey, where it leases part of its space to Sky Sotheby International Realty.
The bank will keep its headquarters in Osprey, where Goldsby is based. Bank chairman/CEO Dan Hager works out of Bradenton.
The upcoming Sarasota office will have most frontage along Palm. The bank won't get a sign on top of the building.
First America recently reached a milestone, hitting $102 million in assets. Goldsby said the bank has been profitable for five straight months. It posted a loss of $583,000 last year.
"We're whittling away at the organizing expenses we had initially. When we get that put to bed, we can start retaining earnings," he said.
Most of its lending business has come in commercial real estate in the two-county area.
"We're happy we chose not to tie in big into the residential side of the business because that market has gone a little soft now," Goldsby said. "Commercial real estate is remaining pretty strong for us."
The bank now has 24 employees and expects to hire six more for the downtown Sarasota branch.
And more expansion is on the way.
The bank plans to buy a parcel on State Road 64 near Lakewood Ranch for a branch to open in late 2007.
It also has a contract on property in Venice for an office in 2008.
Unclaimed property auction raises $616,000
The Florida Department of Financial Services raised $616,000 with its latest unclaimed property auction.
Nearly 500 lots totaling some 32,000 items were sold at the daylong auction in Jacksonville. A men's 2.35-carat diamond ring brought the highest bid of $14,000. A signed photograph of Babe Ruth garnered $3,000.
The state received the auction items from unclaimed safety deposit boxes. The department now holds unclaimed property valued at more than $1 billion.
Last year the state returned to owners or heirs more than $100 million in cash and property.
Typical unclaimed property includes money and securities, watches, jewelry, coins and stamps.
The next auction will be held Aug. 25 and 26 in Tampa.
For more information on the state's unclaimed property program, check out the Web site www.fltreasurehunt.org or call 1-88-VALUABLE.
Regions Financial Corp. and AmSouth Bancorporation have pledged to invest at least $100 billion over seven years to support community development, small business lending and mortgage loans in low-income communities.
Regions is buying AmSouth for $9.8 billion in stock. The banks, both based in Birmingham, Ala., will combine to become the fourth-largest bank in Florida and 10th-largest nationwide.
Merging banks typically make such lending commitments to appease community activist groups that protest the deals. The groups ask regulators to block the mergers unless the banks agree to make loans in poor neighborhoods.
If the merger goes through, Regions says it will make at least $50 billion in loans to small businesses, $40 billion in mortgages to lower- and moderate-income families and at least $10 billion in community development lending and investments.
Last modified: July 24. 2006 4:06AM
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