Organizers planning new bank in the Florida Keys

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A group is planning a new bank in the Florida Keys.

Organizers have filed an application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for Gulf Atlantic Bank. The bank would be based in Key West on property that once housed a car dealership.

Peter Batty and Jeff Searcy, co-owners of United Atlantic Insurance Group, are leading the effort.

Batty said organizers initially plan to raise $14 million to $16 million, with a goal of opening in August or September. The group also plans to form a bank holding company called Gulf Atlantic Financial.

Key West has seven banks and $1.3 billion in deposits, according to June data from the FDIC.

Batty said First State Bank of the Florida Keys — the market's biggest bank, with $961 million in assets and about 30% of the local deposits — has gotten rather large.

“The biggest part of our thinking was that we saw a need,” Batty said in an interview. “Key West is a tight-knit community … and there really isn’t that community bank option there right now.”

Batty said the proposed bank has a CEO, though he declined to say who it is.

A source familiar with the application said the group hired Bryan Robinson, an executive at Citizens State Bank in Perry, Fla. Citizens State recently agreed to be sold to VyStar Credit Union.

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