Arkansas-based bank has Winter Park site under contract for market entry

Bob Moser
GrowthSpotter

Arkansas-based Bank of the Ozarks has a prominent site in Winter Park under contract, with plans to build a flagship branch and office building that would mark its Orlando market entry for retail lending.

Located at 1100 N. Orange Ave., the 1.88-acre parcel boasts frontage on the heavily trafficked six-way intersection of Orange, Minnesota Avenue and Denning Drive. 

It lies in the center of Winter Park's 0.7-mile stretch of Orange Avenue, where city staff continue to work on design guidelines for redevelopment and a new corridor plan that could be finished this year. 

It's also right next to the city-owned Progress Point site (3.7 acres), a target of mixed-use development interest that is expected to be put up for sale after the design guidelines are adopted.

Ozarks is considering a two- or three-story branch and office building on the site with a footprint of roughly 10,000 square feet, and has inquired about redevelopment options with Winter Park planning staff.

The company could close on the purchase as soon as Wednesday of this week near the full $4.4 million list price. 

**UPDATE: Bank of the Ozarks paid $4.3 million for the property that week, according to a deed recorded Jan. 25 in Orange County.

The property is home to a shuttered former payment office for a utility company, which American Momentum Bank bought in 2009 for $4.2 million. 

American Momentum has local branches in downtown Orlando and Winter Garden, and is pursuing another site for expansion into Winter Park. With its growth coming primarily through bank acquisitions the company deemed this N. Orange Avenue site as surplus, and has listed it for sale since January 2015 through Scott Corbin and Michael Sweeney of Colliers International. 

"It's a phenomenal piece of real estate that has drawn a lot of interest, given that it's a Winter Park address at a unique three-way corner," Corbin told GrowthSpotter. "But (American Momentum) was very firm in their pricing, which is why it took a bit longer than it should have to sell." 

The company currently has a heavy branch presence in Tampa and South Florida, but no retail branches in the Greater Orlando market. It maintains a loan office in downtown Winter Park.

Bank of the Ozarks has been searching for sites in Greater Orlando over the past year. Expansion plans call for the opening of its first Orlando retail office in 2019, spokeswoman Susan Blair said Tuesday. She declined further comment on the location.

Ozarks had owned a 0.57-acre lot at the corner of Orlando's Virginia Drive and Mills Avenue, which it took on as surplus in the 2016 acquisition of C1 Bank. But it sold that site in late August to the non-profit AIDS Healthcare Foundation after determining it was too small to fit a large bank branch.

Jorge Rodriguez, managing director with Colliers International, represented Ozarks on that sale and has led the bank's Orlando-area site selection. 

Bank of the Ozarks dates to 1903 in Jasper, Arkansas, is publicly traded on the NASDAQ global select market, and has been named the top performing bank in the nation in its asset size category by Bank Director magazine for five consecutive years. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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