Pilot Bank opened its first St. Petersburg branch Wednesday morning, in a building once occupied by one of the most well-known names in Florida banking, Barnett Bank.
It’s a bit of nostalgia for Rita Lowman, Pilot Bank’s president, the former chair of the Florida Bankers Association, and a banking industry veteran, who earlier in her career managed the acquisition of Barnett Bank for NationsBank, now Bank of America (NYSE: BAC).
The vault in the new Pilot Bank still bears the Barnett name. But the revamped office, at 2180 4th St. N., is very different from the former Barnett branch as well as the SunTrust Bank office that most recently occupied the space.
There are no teller lines. Clients and bankers will sit across desks from each other, conducting a wide range of transactions, from opening an account to talking about lending needs. There’s a coffee bar, a conference room and a lot of open space for community events. The upper floor has been revamped with private offices, including one for commercial bankers to meet with clients, and a kitchen for bank staff. And there will be art everywhere — most notably, a mural honoring the city’s history in commercial flight on the north outside wall, as well as rotating exhibits by local artists inside the office.
See the gallery below for images inside and outside the bank.
The first exhibit, which opens Nov. 1, will feature the work of John Gascot and Derek Donnelly, the two artists who created the mural.
“St. Petersburg is an art community. We love that and it was one of the reasons we wanted to design this building the way we did, so we could feature the wonderful artists we have throughout our community. It’s such a part of St. Pete and who we are,” Lowman said.
Pilot Bank, with $333 million in total assets as of June 30, has five other locations — four of them in Tampa and one in Lakeland. But many of the bank’s clients live in St. Petersburg, as do Lowman and Shawn Hannan, executive vice president and chief lending officer. Both Lowman and Hannan will have offices in the St. Pete location.
“We have a lot of ties to the St. Pete market. It’s a fun place to be and it’s a growth market for us,” Lowman said.
A new bank branch, while not unprecedented, is still less common than a branch closing as the banking industry shrinks. Since the beginning of the year, the Office of the Comptroller has been notified about seven branch closings in Pinellas County. There were just two notifications about branch establishments in that same time period.
The new Pilot Bank branch is owned by 4th Street Ventures LLC, which acquired the 4,148-square-foot building in January for $1.7 million, according to Pinellas County property records.