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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Apr. 16, 2004 15 years ago

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

This week's items: Grand Mariner delay liftedYet another community bank has been organizing in Sarasota County Shane Eagan and Tom Rasmussen riding into Sunset? Tim Clarke is relieved

Coffee Talk (Sara/Mana edition)

Grand Mariner delay lifted

On April 14, a circuit judge in Manatee County gave the go ahead for the $33-million Grand Mariner on Longboat Key.

In December of 2002, a resident of Longboat Key sued the town, claiming the town's Zoning Board of Commissioners improperly approved the project.

"When the litigation hit the newspapers, we pretty much decided it would be the prudent thing not to throw money at it on marketing," says Tom Hires, project manager and part owner. "But we knew there wasn't a question the way it would end up. That delayed us about a year though." The court ruled in favor of Longboat Key and its zoning board.

The Grand Mariner is a 14-unit luxury condominium development, which will replace the Buccaneer Inn Restaurant and Marina, at 595 Dream Island Road. The development will also feature 20 boat slips.

Hires shares ownership with the developer Chicago-based Terrapin Properties.

"We are anticipating that demolition will start in the next two to three months," Hires says. "Construction will probably start in early 2005. We are looking at a completion date in fall 2006."

Hires declined to comment because of the possibility of legal action against the former plaintiff.

"We think we should do well," Hires says. "This is a small boutique community. It is also one of the most affordable developments on the key."

Units in the development run from $1.6 million to $2.7 million.

First America fast

Yet another community bank has been organizing in Sarasota County, often purported to be one of the most over-banked areas in Florida.

But guess what? Investors, at least, don't care what some bank analysts say about the Sarasota market.

First America Bank has blown past its goal of $7 million in beginning paid-in capital and now has more than $8 million on hand. And the bank-in-organization has extended the subscription period for a common stock offering beyond the original March 15 deadline. One director said the bank raised the $8 million in about 30 days.

The organizers are going to give it a few more weeks to see if they can hit the $10 million mark. That would make the initial capitalization the largest amount raised of the startups in the past five years.

First America, headed by former Regions banker Henry A. "Hank" Goldsby, plans to open a headquarters in Osprey sometime during this quarter, according to the offering circular. The bank-in-organization's president hopes to commence operations at a second office in Bradenton as soon as possible after the Osprey opening.

Goldsby and First America are getting closer to ribbon-cutting time.

Michael L. Hogan, a certified public accountant, has been chosen as First America's chief financial officer. Hogan most recently worked at Pelican National Bank in Naples.

Two senior lending executives have also come aboard. Michael Turner will be senior vice president and commercial loan manager in Sarasota County. David Wymer will hold the same title in Manatee County. Both have experience in the Sarasota market.

Easy rider

Understandably, low-profile Shane Eagan and Tom Rasmussen, longtime managers of the Longboat Key Club and Inn on the Beach, have lowered their profiles even more since the change in management at the club.

GCBR's sister paper, The Longboat Observer, recently reported an update on Rasmussen, executive vice president of Shannon Resort & Club Group. Asked what his plans are, he responded via e-mail:

"I am going to do nothing for about six months except ride my motorcycle. I will tell you more in the future. Right now, there is not much to tell. We have not made any future plans yet. It is time to relax after a 14-year run at the Longboat Key Club."

Readers of The Longboat Observer's April Fools' editions will remember when Rasmussen and Eagan were good sports two years ago and decked out in their motorcycle gear to announce plans for Biker Week at the Longboat Key Club. It was, of course, just a spoof - the alleged Biker Week, not Rasmussen and Eagan's motorcycles. They're for real.


No doubt Tim Clarke, founder of Clarke Advertising and Public Relations, is relieved. He has finished his two-year stint as chairman of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. Next up: Charles Murphy, president and co-founder of Sarasota-based Bank of Commerce. Don't read anything into this: Murphy took over as chairman on April 1 ¦ If you missed the grandaddy of hob nobs last month, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce's annual Hob Nob, there's another hob nob around the corner. The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, shamelessly trying to copy Manatee's successful event, will hold its Third Annual Hob Nob Sarasota Style from 5:30 to 9 p.m. April 22 at Phillippi Mansion and Estate on the south Trail. Admission is $35 for chamber members ($45 at the door). To make a reservation call the credit card line at 955-2508, ext. 517. And if you want to be a sponsor, the chamber says there are still a few food booths available for sponsorship at $500. Call Chris at 955-2508, ext. 230.

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