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St. Pete bank expands services in historic Sarasota neighborhood

BayFirst National Bank has transformed a loan office in Sarasota's Newtown into a full-service center.

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 4:00 p.m. January 15, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
BayFirst National Bank has opened a full-service center in Sarasota's Newtown.
BayFirst National Bank has opened a full-service center in Sarasota's Newtown.
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  • Manatee-Sarasota
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St. Petersburg-based community bank BayFirst National Bank has expanded its offerings in Sarasota’s historically Black neighborhood, Newton.

The bank, which has operated out of the space at 1782 Dr. Martin Luther King Way since 2022, has transformed the location into a full-service facility. This means that it will offer traditional retail banking service — including personal and business banking. Before that, the site was a loan production and resource center. As such, it worked on commercial, residential and consumer loans as well as hosting financial education programs.

The bank told the Business Observer in July that the center had 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.

The changeover comes after BayFirst, which had been leasing the building, bought it from the city of Sarasota. According to county property records, it paid $235,000 in May. The Sarasota Police Department is a tenant in the building.  

Newtown is north of downtown Sarasota. According to Visit Sarasota, it was born in the late 19th century and early 20th century as new residences were developed to move and segregate Black residents from downtown neighborhoods. Over the decades it has become the heart of the city’s Black community.

BayFirst National Bank was founded in 1999 and operates 11 banking centers in the Tampa Bay area. In October, its parent company BayFirst Financial Corp. reported that its total assets grew 4.3% ($46.6 million) in the third quarter to $1.07 billion.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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