MIAMI BEACH - A typical customer for Jefferson Bancorp when it opened 30 years ago in Miami Beach was a 72-year-old retiree from Newark, N.J.
Today, that customer could be a Cuban immigrant, a high-priced fashion model, a German businessman, or maybe even Cher.
There are no typical customers on the Miami Beach of 1995.
"I met Cindy Crawford (the model) during an AIDS march recently, and all I could say was, 'hi,' " says Barton S. Goldberg, president of Jefferson Bank. "And I barely got that out. I usually have a pretty easy time speaking."
Miami Beach, an eight-mile-long spit of land that hugs the Florida coast just off Miami, has changed a lot since Mr. Goldberg moved here with his family from New York in 1942. Most of that change has occurred in the past decade, and Mr. Goldberg's $360 million-asset bank - the only bank based in Miami Beach - has been one of the engines of that metamorphosis.
The bank's latest project in this international haven of the stylishly rich and beautiful is to help finance the first major hotels to be built on the beach in nearly 30 years. Mr. Goldberg has spearheaded the effort by assembling a consortium of approximately 30 banks in the area to underwrite an estimated $80 million to $100 million in loans for the project.
The plan, which many banks initially shied away from, received a big boost last fall when the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta said the hotels would satisfy Community Reinvestment Act requirements.
The two hotels would employ 2,300 people with low and moderate incomes and could generate many more jobs in the surrounding neighborhood, Mr. Goldberg says.
"We toured the area, and it is clearly blighted," despite its wealthy surroundings, says Ronald N. Zimmerman, vice president at the Atlanta Federal Reserve. "Frankly, I think it (CRA approval) was an important factor in getting the players to the table initially."
The Atlanta Fed also looked favorably on the fact that the smaller of the two hotels would be owned and built by minorities, Mr. Zimmerman says. The minority developers learned just two weeks ago that their partner, Sheraton Hotels, decided to pull out of the deal, but they believe they'll find another hotel company soon, Mr. Goldberg says.
If all goes according to plan, the hotels should open by the winter of 1997-98, he says.
While projects of this magnitude are new to Mr. Goldberg, he is no stranger to the development scene.
For 20 years until he stepped down in 1991, Mr. Goldberg served on the local zoning board, most of that time as its chairman. While the zoning of the area where most of the recent development has occurred - called South Beach - was being clarified, the board granted numerous variances to allow today's trendy cafes and bars to grow and eventually to flourish.
What this infusion of money and youth has done is to turn a sleepy retirement community into a playground of pastel-colored, Art Deco hotels and nightspots teeming with lightly clad twentysomethings on Rollerblades. The few elderly people who still roam the sidewalks look a bit overwhelmed.
The change has also challenged banks, like Jefferson, to keep pace with the rapidly evolving demographics. In the past 10 years, the average age has fallen to 45 from 72; Hispanics now make up more than half of the increasingly diversified population; and the total number of residents has grown tenfold in the past 50 years, to 100,000.
"Our marketing guy goes crazy," Mr. Goldberg says. "He has to design ads for all sorts of publications, normally in at least two different languages."
Jefferson has also started to offer new investment products, such as mutual funds and annuities, to meet the needs of its new customers.
Jefferson's balance sheet in recent years reflects slow but steady growth. Net income increased by 7% last year, after a 50% dip in earnings in 1991. The bank has consolidated somewhat by closing two branches last year. Returns on assets (0.84%) and equity (8.29%) last year were below average - which Mr. Goldberg says reflects the bank's desire to remain highly capitalized.
The bank has to be as mercurial as its surroundings, Mr. Goldberg asserts, due to the invasion of larger regional banks into the area. In 1964, when Jefferson opened, there was only one other competitor with a branch on the beach; today there are at least 14, he says.