MANATEE -- Bank of the Ozarks is growing its Manatee County presence over the next year with two new locations.
Along Manatee Avenue at 19th Street West passersby can see the rubble from days of demolition of crumbling buildings that area making way for a Manatee County headquarters for the Little Rock, Ark.-based bank.
On State Route 70 East, the walls and roof are in place for a new location at 3703 S.R. 70 East, to replace a bank at 900 53rd Ave. E.
"We have enjoyed success in Bradenton and have a long-term commitment to the community," said Susan Blair, executive vice president for investor relations at Bank of the Ozarks.
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Fawley Bryant Architects designed the new headquarters and NDC Construction will build the office at 1901 Manatee Ave. W. The project still needs final approval by the Development Review Committee. But once details are approved, bank officials expect construction to begin the first week in June. Construction is expected to be finished in early 2014.
"The vibrant business climate coupled with the outstanding quality of life here makes Manatee County very attractive to Bank of the Ozarks," said Barry Brown, president of the Manatee/Sarasota market for Bank of the Ozarks. "We are excited about the dy
namics of an improving housing market alongside local government and business leaders' vision for bringing jobs and industry to Manatee."
Bank of the Ozarks currently has 23 employees in Manatee County and anticipates hiring additional employees at the new office, scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2014.
Ozarks has four locations in Florida with three of them in Manatee County. The fourth is in Ocala. The bank took over Horizon Bank's deposits and some of its assets in 2010 after the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation shut down Horizon.
Ozarks assembled two lots to make room for the Manatee Avenue branch, both were among the assets the banks acquired from the former Horizon Bank. Horizon Bank foreclosed on the lots sometime prior to September 2010. The bank acquired neighboring properties, which included vacant homes, through a foreclosure sale in December. A fire-damaged home was demolished at the site in 2012, according to permit records.
The Manatee Avenue headquarters will feature 9,900 square feet of space with offices on the top floor and the bank on the bottom floor. The bank will boast 19 offices and two conference rooms. The bank will also have three drive-thru lanes, Blair said.
The new branch on State Route 70, scheduled to open in August, will be a 3,800-square-foot bank, Blair said. The hours are expected to remain the same as the 53rd Avenue branch that the new location will replace, she said.
"We have done very well in that market, but we do have interest to continue and grow in Manatee County through our existing offices as well as our office we are adding there," Blair said.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.