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Immokalee-based Florida Community Bank fails

May 9, 2010


FLORIDA COMMUNITY BANK: Closed Friday: deposits and most assets dealt to Premier American Bank, N.A.

ORION BANK: Closed Nov. 13, most of the Naples-based bank's deposits and assets were dealt to IberiaBank, based in Lafayette, La.

PARTNERS BANK AND HILLCREST BANK: Both Naples-based banks were closed Oct. 23 and turned into branches of Fort Lauderdale-based Stonegate Bank.

COLONIAL BANK: The Montgomery, Ala.-based bank was closed Aug. 14 and most of its branches taken over by BB&T of Winston-Salem, N.C. Colonial had 26 branches in Southwest Florida.

RIVERSIDE BANK: The Cape Coral-based bank was closed Feb. 13, 2009 and acquired by Naples-based TIB Bank.


Regulators shut down Immokalee-based Florida Community Bank on Friday and dealt its deposits and most of its assets to a Miami bank chartered last week.

Branches, including five in Lee County, will reopen as Premier American Bank branches but will continue to conduct business under the name Florida Community Bank.

Florida Community Bank, founded in 1923 by Barron Collier, had 11 branches and $774.6 million in deposits as of Sept. 30, the most recent information available.

The bank had been hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis in Florida. The bank had $191.3 million in bad debt as of Sept. 30.

The bank had been under regulatory supervision of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation since early 2007, with stricter orders to improve lending practices and capital since late 2008.

Fort Myers-based real estate consultant Paige Rausch watched regulators arrive at a Cape Coral branch of Florida Community after it closed Friday.

"The signs and signals have all been there for some time that this was coming," Rausch said.

Florida Community was the only remaining Lee County bank ranked with zero stars troubled and problematic by Coral Gables-based BauerFinancial.

"This is really part of the cleansing process we all have to go through, but is it painful? Sure," Rausch said.

It was especially painful for Robbie Roepstorff, president of Edison National Bank in Fort Myers. Roepstorff said she has been a friend of First Community president Steve Price, and his predecessor and father, Bill Price, for many years.

"It's just heartbreaking when something like this happens," Roepstorff said.

Steve Price could not be reached for comment Friday.

Florida Community financed some high-profile projects in Lee County including Zoomers Family Amusement Park, which still sits, almost completed but vacant, along Summerlin Road in south Fort Myers.

The bank took it back in foreclosure in 2008 with an $11.4 million judgment against the owner and developer.

Florida Community also financed Concordia, a condominium project in Cape Coral, but filed a $23.4 million foreclosure action and then marketed the units itself.

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Roepstorff said the smooth transition to Premier American handled by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. should reassure bank customers.

"The FDIC is being so aggressive in bringing in institutions to acquire the bank that it doesn't impact the customers," she said.

Premier Community Bank, National Association, was chartered last week by Bond Street Holdings, which has offices in New York and Naples.

Bond Street has raised $440 million to acquire banks either by direct negotiations or through a deal brokered by the FDIC.

It was an FDIC deal that resulted in Bond Street's first acquisition, of Premier American Bank in Miami on Jan. 22.

The old Premier's four branches, all on the east coast, reopened Monday as part of the new Premier American, giving it an immediate foothold in South Florida.

Earlier this week, Bond Street executive Dan Healy said Florida is an attractive market despite the current economic struggles.

"I think it's a profitable place," Healy said. He couldn't be reached for additional comment Friday.

Bruce Schultz, president of Southwest Capital Bank in Fort Myers, said the willingness of others to enter the local market should reassure customers.

"The sting of this from a bank industry perspective is not good, but the sooner we get through this process the better for customer confidence," Schultz said.

Florida Community Bank was one of five shut down by regulators Friday, including two in Georgia, one in Minnesota and one in California, bringing to 13 the number of bank failures so far in 2010, following 140 last year.

Staff writer Dick Hogan contributed to this report.

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