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Business

Banking explodes with new branches

By MELIA BOWIE
Published February 15, 2004

TRINITY - A shift is in store this year for Pasco financial centers as the banking industry begins to follow the county's residential and retail boom. From small startups to large conglomerates, banks are investing millions in 2004 to build new locations in central and southwest Pasco.

"People have discovered Pasco County," said Larry Starnes, Pasco president for Wachovia, which is investing $10-million in four new locations in 2004 and early 2005 - the largest buildout of any area in its national network. "We're in an explosive growth pattern in the central part of this county."

A mix of young professionals, suburban families and retirees is establishing communities in newly developed areas stretching from Trinity to Wesley Chapel.

Bank of America also is planning four new centers for the area and will debut one of its newly designed model centers at Mitchell Ranch Plaza in July.

Including land, the center will cost about $2.5-million, said Melanie Price, Bank of America's president for the Suncoast region. The location, which initially was targeted for a small center and was upgraded to medium at 4,800 square feet, will feature televisions tuned to CNN in the lobby and lined up at each teller as well as lobby managers to direct incoming customers, she said.

Smaller community banks such as Madison Bank, based in Tarpon Springs, also are opening new branches in Pasco with construction on a new Mitchell Ranch Plaza site expected to be completed in early 2004.

[Last modified February 15, 2004, 01:15:45]


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