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Business Observer Wednesday, Apr. 29, 2009 13 years ago

Local bank finds a new home

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A one-year-old Sarasota bank is moving into a new, prominent headquarters — and in the process is saving what some consider one of the area's architectural landmarks.

A one-year-old Sarasota bank is moving into a new, prominent headquarters — and in the process is saving what some consider one of the area's architectural landmarks.

Gateway Bank of Southwest Florida is moving into the property just south of downtown Sarasota, at the corner of Bahia Vista Street and U.S. 41. The three-story building had been occupied by BB&T Bank, which left it in 2006 and sold it to a local investment partnership earlier this year for $2.5 million.

In addition to BB&T bank and several other financial institutions over the past three decades, the building stood as a one the city's most visible examples of what is known as the Sarasota school of architecture. The structure, like a few others in town, was built with multiple concrete layers. Local architect Jack West designed it.

Gateway, with $54 million in assets as of the end of 2008, had sought a new headquarters for its growing operation after operating in a downtown office suite since it was founded as a de novo institution in late 2007. When plans for a potential CVS Pharmancy at the old BB&T bank building fell through, Gateway executives jumped at the chance to be at the site. The bank is leasing about 11,500 square feet of space in the building spread over two floors.

“There has been a determined effort on the part of the community to retain this building as a bank and it is a privilege for Gateway Bank to make this happen,” Gateway Bank president and chief executive Shaun Merriman said in a statement.

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