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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Apr. 29, 2005 15 years ago

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana)

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Resistance is futile: Maybe community bankers should just give up now.Is ADP Rosemary bound?: The Sarasota City Commission will have to make a tough political decision that could have a drastic impact on the future of the Rosemary District.Can't get enough Freedom: Another of those pesky community banks is almost up and running.Concession, James Concession: Add another celebrity name to the growing list associated with The Concession Golf Club, east of Interstate 75 in Manatee County. June: not just a month anymore: A new restaurant allegedly with some form of nighttime entertainment is planned for Lakewood Ranch.
by: Adam Hughes Staff Writer

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana)

Resistance is futile

Maybe community bankers should just give up now. Save themselves and their shareholders a lot of grief. Quit now, while they're ahead.

That seemed to be the free advice that John A. Allison IV dispensed at the April 26 annual meeting of BB&T Corp.

Allison, chairman and chief executive of the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based holding company, doesn't see a bright future for community banks, even as they sprout up all over the Tampa Bay area.

In another decade, Allison says the American financial services landscape will be dominated by 10 or 15 huge banks. A few mid-size banks might survive, but small community institutions are imperiled.

"There'll still be community banks," Allison generously allowed. "But we don't think it's going to be much fun to be a community bank."

The 123-year-old BB&T, which acquired Republic Bancshares Inc. of St. Petersburg in 2004, used to be one of those daft community banks.

"A farm bank," with just $250 million in assets, is how Allison describes the place when he arrived in 1972. At the end of 2004, BB&T held more than $100 billion in assets and SNL Financial ranked it the 12th largest bank in the United States.

Allison predicts that BB&T will be among those lucky mega-banks that by 2015 will have crushed community banking as we know it.

Is ADP Rosemary bound?

The Sarasota City Commission will have to make a tough political decision that could have a drastic impact on the future of the Rosemary District.

It's a choice between what is more desirable for a community: economic redevelopment and extra parking or a neighborhood garden. The catalyst for discussion is a proposal by The ADP Group to partner with Mindy and Micah Parker, owners of the former Boxing Club building, at 532 Central Ave., to develop a complex on that property, a community garden directly behind it and a city parking lot on Fifth Street.

ADP Group officials are looking for a Sarasota location to develop a larger corporate headquarters building so they consolidate all their operations and employees in one building.

"What we are suggesting to the city is a mixed-use building (next to a parking garage)," says Bruce Franklin, president of The ADP Group. "We would develop public parking spaces and commit to lower priced housing in exchange for greater density and the city land."

Although the specifics are flexible, Franklin suggests about 50 housing units, some of which would start in the $200,000 range. The project would also create 150 public parking spaces. As proposed, the buildings would likely reach the maximum height limit of five stories and would provide 15,000 square feet of office space for The ADP Group and between 5,000 to 10,000 square feet of retail on the bottom level.

Franklin says his company will take the concept to the commission later this month.

The proposal has support from at least one local businessman, property owner and Realtor. "I think it's got tremendous potential for the area," says Ian Black president of Ian Black Real Estate. "We are really trying to do anything we can to insure that the concepts in the masterplan are adopted as soon as possible."

In other Rosemary news, William Glade and Glenn Kroneberger are relocating their Sarasota Coffee and Tea business from 1419 Fifth St., Sarasota, to a warehouse property near U.S. 301 at 1925 Barber Road.

"We just wanted to get out of the retail side of the business," Glade says. The main focus of company now is providing coffee related items to businesses.

Kelly Kary, owner of the Sarasota Olive Oil Co., that currently occupies 1,000 square feet at 514 Central Ave. is relocating her business into the Fifth Street unit and will continue the coffee shop. She hopes to open there in May.

Can't get enough Freedom

Another of those pesky community banks is almost up and running.

Freedom Bank, the latest creation of veteran Manatee County banker Gerald L. Anthony, is scheduled to open by the middle of May. The first office will be on Cortez Road West in Bradenton. Anthony sold more than $15.5 million worth of stock to local and institutional investors to get Freedom Bank off the drawing board. Anthony, who will serve as president and chief executive, is bringing in Dennis Holthaus as chief financial officer and Mark Williams to be senior lender.

Bradenton's Freedom Bank is not to be confused with another new institution in St. Petersburg called Freedom Bank of America, which was opened earlier this year by ex-Mercantile Bank CEO Bob Blakley.

Anthony founded Coast Bank and the former American Bank, both in Bradenton. He left when his aggressive growth strategy didn't generate sufficient profits fast enough.

Concession, James Concession

Add another celebrity name to the growing list associated with The Concession Golf Club, east of Interstate 75 in Manatee County. World famous actor Sir Sean Connery has become an honorary member of the private Golf Club. It turns out that one of the course's designers British golf star Tony Jacklin is a close friend of Connery. As of press time it was unknown whether Connery, who typically splits his time between the Bahamas and New York, would be making any visits to the region to try out the links. Could we see the most famous actor to play James Bond at the Sarasota Film Festival in the near future?

June: not just a month anymore

A new restaurant allegedly with some form of nighttime entertainment is planned for Lakewood Ranch. The former J .Ryan's on the Grill and Sammy Frog's 6,600-square-foot building at 6260 Lake Osprey Drive has been leased by a group that plans to open a restaurant under the name of June. Coffee Talk was unable to connect with the owners, but has been told that the new concept will feature a Tapas-style menu similar to the Silver Cricket in Sarasota. The restaurant is presently being renovated.

CORRECTION

Abitar Contract Furnishings is a commercial furnishings procurement company. An April 22 headline on a Free Press article stated otherwise.

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