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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jan. 7, 2005 15 years ago

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

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This week's items: Which hometown?Turn back timeLanding the OasisFreedom is offeringTop honors

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

Which hometown?

TrustCo Bank Corp NYis Trustco Bank subsidiary is diving into Sarasota County with an advertising slogan calling itself: iyour new hometown bank.i

Hmmm. TrustCo actually has its headquarters in Glenville, N.Y. But at least Glenville, which is near Schenectady, is known as ia town of good neighbors.i

A neighborly attitude will come in handy as the thrift tries to get something going in the competitive Sarasota banking market.

Since November, TrustCo has quietly opened two branches in the county, the first on South Tamiami Trail in Osprey and the second on Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota.

The federal savings bank apparently was encouraged by the performance of four branches that it opened in the Orlando area during the past couple of years. Those were TrustCois first foray into the Sunshine State.

The TrustCo holding company has $2.8 billion in assets and the thrift is the largest depository institution in New Yorkis Capital District, surrounding Albany.

For the three months that ended Sept. 30, the holding company reported net income of $15.2 million, up from $14.3 million for the same period in 2003. The net-occupancy portion of TrustCois non-interest expense was up $100,000 for the quarter and $400,000 for the first nine months of 2004 due to the cost of new branches, according to regulatory filings.

Yet, based on results from the first half of last year, The American Banker newspaper recently ranked TrustCo fifth in return on equity and 12th in return on assets among the top 150 banking companies in the nation.

Turn back time

D.E. Murphy Constructors Inc. has completed a significant piece of its restoration of the 1926 Dwight James Baum-designed, former Sarasota Times Building at 1216 First St.

iWe have pretty much completed restoring the exterior,i says Donald Murphy. iWe took off the layers on the outside, re-roofed it and painted it. The original windows were steel, and so we had them custom-made. We replaced all the doors.i

In May, Lisa and Donald Murphy purchased the 78-year-old building from Jaguar Realty LLC for $1.4 million. Renovations began in June.

As for the buildingis future, Donald Murphy says no decisions have been made. It could be sold or leased.

Murphy envisions a restaurant on the first and second floor, with lofts or a penthouse on the third floor. Asked if he had a listing price, Murphy says it would probably be in the $3.5 million to $4 million range for the 11,000-square-foot building.

iIim very happy,i he says. iI think it looks very close to what it was historically.i

Baum, who designed the home for Sarasotais first newspaper, was the architect behind Cai diZan and the Sarasota County Courthouse.

Landing the Oasis

Jorge Perezis The Related Group has closed the deal on the six parcels needed to develop the $450-million Fort Myersi Oasis project. The firm paid $22.5 million for 18 acres, or about $1.25 million per acre at $28.70 per square foot.

John Harshman, owner and president of Harshman & Co. Inc., says the sale price was low compared to prices for Sarasota property. Although land values vary greatly based on location, size and zoning, Harshman is currently selling a non-waterfront, downtown C-CBD zoned property for more than $125 per square foot.

The five-building, 32-story condominium Oasis is one of at least eight major residential projects planned for Fort Myersi downtown waterfront. The Oasis, which is located just outside of the downtown redevelopment district where most of the resurgence is occurring, will feature 1,079 total units.

Bob Pekol, of VIP Commercial-TCN Worldwide, represented the buyer on all six transactions, and Steve Luta, of ReMax, represented the buyer on the Hidden Cove sale.

Freedomis offering

The proposed Freedom Bank has issued its first public offering. The Bradenton-based startup plans to raise between $7.5 million and $20 million by selling common shares at $10 each. The bankis organizers plan to buy at least 280,000 shares in the offering. The minimum number of shares an investor may purchase is 1,000.

The new community bank is the third organized by well-known Manatee County banker Gerald Anthony, who also founded American Bank and Coast Bank of Florida.

The proposed bank will use Kendrick Pierce Securities Inc. as its sales agent. It will likely purchase a Liberty Savings Bank branch, at 617 Cortez Road W., Bradenton.

Organizing directors of the bank include: Anthony, Alphonso Belsito, Denise Cabanillas, John Hubbard, Edward Jennings, David Law, David Pack, Lynn Powell, Howard Seider and George Skestos.

Top honors

Grady Pridgen Inc. won top honors at the annual awards ceremony sponsored by the Tampa Bay chapter of the National Association of Industrial Properties. Grady Pridgen, the firmis president, accepted the 2004 iDeveloper of the Yeari award.

The companyis portfolio contains about 2 million square feet of industrial space. Over the years, Pridgenis investments have helped produce about 13,500 jobs and relocated about 700 businesses to the St. Petersburg market.

iHe has had a tremendous amount of success in the Tampa Bay area in the real estate industry developing industrial properties,i says real estate executive Hank Brenner, chairman of the chapteris awards selection committee. iNow that heis expanding his horizons with mixed-use properties like the new Sod Farm and Imperial Yacht Basin developments. We believed Grady was very deserving of the award.i

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