Flagship Bank expects to open an office in St. Petersburg’s EDGE District by the end of this month.
The office, at 965 Central Ave., will be the fifth office — and the first in St. Petersburg — for Flagship, a community bank headquartered in Clearwater.
“We are thrilled to be expanding our footprint into the exciting and vibrant community of Downtown St. Petersburg,” said Paul Wikle, chairman of Flagship Bank. “As a community-focused bank, we believe our core values and relationship-based banking philosophy meet the personal and business banking needs of St. Petersburg and South Pinellas County.”
A temporary sign for Flagship went up Thursday morning on the property, which previously housed a branch office for GulfShore Bank and later for Seacoast Bank, after Seacoast bought GulfShore. Seacoast closed the Central Avenue site almost a year ago, after it bought Fourth Street Banking Co. and Freedom Bank.
“Our modus operandi is to find people first and then look for real estate,” said Bob McGivney, CEO and vice chairman of West Florida Bank Corp., the holding company for Flagship.
The bank has hired John Brenner as senior vice president and commercial lender and Bella Wood as the retail market manager. Both previously worked in the St. Pete office. Brenner is a native St. Petersburg resident and veteran banker who spent 35 years at Bank of America and its predecessors before joining GulfShore. Wood ran the Central Avenue office for both GulfShore and Seacoast.
“We believe in investing in communities where our bankers live and are connected to personally and professionally,” McGivney said. “John and Bella have deep roots in the community. Our goal is to build long-lasting relationships with our customers by understanding their needs and exceeding their expectations.”
Flagship Bank is a full-service bank offering comprehensive commercial and consumer banking services. The core focus is on owner-managed businesses, which includes both smaller companies and larger ones, McGivney said.
“Our processes for approving loans and taking care of people are streamlined. We have a smart skilled staff and they know when to call someone and say these are people we need to make an exception for. Getting an exception from a regional bank or larger is quite difficult,” he said.
McGivney is among a group of banking veterans from Jefferson Bank of Florida in Oldsmar and from USAmeriBank in Largo who formed West Florida Banking Corp. in 2019. They bought what was then called Flagship Community Bank, when it had less than $100 million in assets and just two locations in Clearwater and Oldsmar. Since then, the bank has added branches in Largo and Tarpon Springs. It had $352 million in assets at the end of the first quarter of 2021, McGivney said.
St. Petersburg, which will be the first location in southern Pinellas County, is a thriving market, and most businesses are doing well, with the exception of some restaurants and hotels that were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, McGivney said.
Flagship’s expansion into St. Petersburg comes at the same time a newly organized bank, Climate First Bank, received conditional approval from the Federal Insurance Deposit Corp. to open in St. Petersburg. Climate First has raised $27 million in capital, exceeding the FDIC’s $17 million capital requirement.