The heavy reliance of Atlanta's community banks on construction and development lending could make them especially vulnerable in a recession, a bank regulator is warning.

In a report released last week, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. found that the average ratio of construction loans to assets at Atlanta- area banks and thrifts with $1 billion of assets or less was 13.1% last Dec. 31. That's more than three times the national average for similar-size institutions.

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