Key takeaway: St. Petersburg-based BayFirst National Bank is taking a big step in serving a traditionally underbanked market, in the Newtown neighborhood of Sarasota.
Core challenge: Customer education about new products and financing for affordable housing projects.
What's next: Transformation into a full-service bank is expected to be complete by the end of 2023.
BayFirst National Bank announced recently it has purchased a building at 1782 Dr. Luther King Way in Sarasota's Newtown neighborhood that it’s been renting since January 2022.
St. Pete-based BayFirst paid $235,000 for the bank May 19, Sarasota County property records show. Newtown is north of downtown Sarasota.
A representative for the bank sent the Business Observer an email July 15 confirming the Sarasota Police Department will stay on as a tenant of the building. The department is on a 20-year lease for $1 a year.
The current loan production office there and financial resource center will be transformed into a full-service banking center, the bank says. Newtown area natives and business development specialists Joe McKenzie and Carlos Yancy will continue to lead the bank.
“The success of our LPO and financial resource center has been unprecedented, and the purchase of our building is an exciting next step as we continue to look for new and more impactful ways to support this community,” BayFirst Market President and Chief Lending Officer Tom Quale says in a release. “We look forward to better assisting residents and business owners by expanding the services and products available to them as a full-service branch and further ingraining ourselves in the community through increased partnerships and support.”
Since it opened last year, the center has provided over $6.6 million in loans to business owners and residents, with $1 million being construction loans for affordable housing projects in Newtown. The bank also provided loans to three local contractors for the construction of eight single-family homes in the community.
“Though it is one of the many ways we have been able to directly impact the Newtown community, providing the means for the creation of more affordable housing has been arguably the most rewarding,” added Quale.
The planned transformation into a full-service bank will allow BayFirst to offer personal banking products and services, financial education programs and a no-fee ATM. The transition is expected to be complete by the end of 2023. As of March 31, 2023, BayFirst Financial Corp., the holdings company of BayFirst National Bank, had $1.07 billion in total assets.
This story was updated to include that the Sarasota Police Department will stay on as tenants of the building.