By Margie Manning
Tampa Bay Business Journal
NorthStar Bank customers have been telling David Stone, president and CEO, that they’ve been waiting for a branch office in south Tampa. Now, they’re a step closer to getting their wish.
The bank had an official groundbreaking for its office at 402 S. MacDill Ave. and expects to open by Aug. 22, if not sooner.
Bank branches nationally have been dropping in numbers. There were 94,752 total branches in the U.S. as of Sept. 30, 2014, a drop of 1,462 branches from a year earlier, according to SNL Financial. While big players like Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) are closing offices, community banks such as NorthStar find value in them, Stone said.
“It’s the market we target — established small business and professionals — who want to sit down and talk face-to-face with someone, especially about their loans,” Stone said. “It’s a little different than the retail customers who open an account and never need to walk into the office again.”
NorthStar, with $196 million in total assets, has been focused on growing loans. As of Dec. 31, it had $89.2 million in net loans and leases, up from $66.5 million in loans a year earlier. The loan-to-deposit ratio — a measure sometimes used to gauge whether a bank might be an acquisition target— increased to 60 percent at year’s end, up from 41 percent a year ago.
NorthStar is ditching the teller line at the new office. Instead there will be a branch manager and two universal tellers, who can open accounts, handle deposits and accommodate business loans. NorthStar’s SBA lenders, mortgage bankers and securities broker will also spend time in the office.
At 2,600 square feet, the new office is slightly smaller than the traditional 3,000-square-foot branch that used to be the norm, Stone said. BDG Architects designed the office and it’s being built by Creative Contractors Inc.
It’s the third office for NorthStar, with its headquarters in downtown Tampa and a branch in Belleair Bluffs in Pinellas County. Stone doesn’t want to oversaturate the market, but he expects to open about one branch a year. He says it takes about $30 million in deposits to hit break-even and justify a new branch.
The ceremonial shovels were barely out of the ground at the south Tampa site when Stone and other bank execs turned their focus to the next potential location.
“After the ground breaking this morning, some of us drove over to downtown St. Petersburg to look at some locations there,” he said. “We’ve looked at about 10 sites and haven’t made a decision yet.”