Bank plans branch, offices in Flagler Co., Fla.

PALM COAST -- Confident the Flagler County economy will bounce back in a year or so, Bank of St. Augustine is seeking permits to build its first Flagler branch and an adjacent office building along State Road 100, a quarter mile west of Belle Terre Parkway.

National retail chains also continue looking to expand in the area with AutoZone planning to demolish and rebuild a store in DeLand and CarMax planning one of its super stores in Daytona Beach.

H. Jeff Bell, president of the savings bank, said the bank has no timetable yet for starting the project but has decided to start making use of land it started buying in June 2006, when the Palm Coast real estate market was still lively.

The market has been very good for branch banks in Palm Coast. We believe that long term, the market will come back again," Bell said.

Bell said the bank made two purchases to acquire 2.2 acres about a mile from the Palm Coast Landings at Town Center, a shopping center nearing completion with Super Target as its anchor.

The bank is planning to build a 4,000-square-foot branch with drive-through lanes on part of the land, and market the rest to an office developer. If it can't find a buyer, the bank would develop an office building itself, Bell said.

Last week, the bank submitted a request to the St. Johns River Water Management District for construction permits for both buildings. Bell estimated it will take about a year to complete the bank building.

The bank, founded in 1997 in St. Augustine, has its main office and two branches in that city. As of March 31, it had $154.5 million in assets and 39 employees.

A CarMax spokeswoman would only say by e-mail that the company is interested in the area.

However, a water district filing shows CarMax has two lots in Interstate Commerce Park along Interstate 95 under contract with Indigo Development Inc. of Daytona Beach.

If built, the used auto super store would be south of Parker Boats, the only business completed in the business park so far.

AutoZone also has applied to the water district for a new stormwater management plan to demolish and build a larger store at 500 N. Spring Garden Ave. in DeLand.

No one with AutoZone could be reached for comment.

Business Writer Cecil G. Brumley contributed to this report