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New Signature Bank to rest on Fourth St.

The site includes Brigit Books and the former Play It Again Sports.

By SHARON L. BOND

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Signature Bank will build a new bank at 3400 Fourth St. N, its second outlet since it began business in September 1999.

The 7,000-square-foot building will house Signature's operations center and banking services. The bank's current location, in the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce building on Second Avenue N, will remain open.

"We are committed to downtown," said David Feaster, bank president. "We definitely want to keep a presence."

Construction on the new building will begin next year, with completion targeted for the end of the year. The site includes the building that once housed Play It Again Sports, which moved to 5450 Fourth St. N this year. Before Play It Again Sports, Fancy's gourmet shop was in the building. Fancy's moved a few blocks south, then was sold twice and now is at 1003 Fourth St. N.

Feaster said the building will be torn down. Signature is buying the adjacent property, Marigold Square, at 3434 Fourth St. N. It has three lots and buildings that are home to several small businesses. The bank will open a temporary drive-through and banking lobby in March in one of the older buildings on the adjacent property. All three buildings eventually will be torn down for parking, however.

Feaster would not disclose the project's price, except to say that it was more than $1-million but less than $2-million. The building's design is not set, he said. Because of its services, such as Internet banking, Signature doesn't want the usual staid look of a bank building, Feaster said.

Signature would like to begin the project sooner but wanted to let the businesses at 3434 Fourth St. N, particularly Brigit Books, finish the year in place.

"We wanted to let them get through Christmas," Feaster said.

Helen Roman, owner of Brigit Books, is looking for a new location in the neighborhood but said it is hard to find a commercial spot on Fourth or Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) streets N. She has yet to tell her customers of the move.

"I don't want my customers to think we are moving away," she said. Roman bought the bookstore in July. It has been in its current location for 11 years, she said.

Other businesses at the site include real estate offices, a counseling service and a massage therapist.

As the new building goes up, Signature will find itself in a construction zone for the second year in a row. Its downtown location is in between BayWalk, the entertainment/retail complex that opens next week, and the new city garage built to serve BayWalk.

Feaster said that while he thinks BayWalk is wonderful, he will be glad when the construction is over.

"I have been in a construction site" -- not near one -- he said. "It has had its impact in the past couple of months. People literally at times physically could not get here."

As a result, the bank did not have its usual fall promotion for new deposits. It has gained business, however, from BayWalk merchants and other businesses that have located nearby, Feaster said.

"The new business will make up for missing the deposit campaign," he said.

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