Archive for November, 2009
Whatcom County’s total property sales saw a significant jump in October, according to data collected from First American Title of Bellingham.
In Bellingham there were 182 property sales in October, up from 140 in October 2008, which was the first month following the national financial meltdown. Total property sales included residential, commercial, industrial and undeveloped properties. Year-to-date, there have been 1,475 property transactions in Bellingham, down 17.7 percent compared to the same period in 2008.
In Ferndale, Lynden and Blaine there were 174 sales last month, up from 137 in October 2008. Year-to-date, there have been 1,342 transactions, down 14.8 percent compared to the same period as last year.
It’s been an interesting trend to watch… total property sales were extremely slow in the first few months of 2009, but in the last couple of months it has been trending ahead of 2008. In Bellingham last month, used single family homes, multi-family buildings, condos and commercial property were tracking ahead of the October 2008 numbers.
The Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry has kicked off its fall membership driving with special deals for new members. There are also prizes for current members who bring in a new member.
The chamber is also putting on “Embrace the New Marketplace” workshop where a speaker will be talking about ways to improve a business Web site’s presence. There are four free sessions, which will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at the BIA building in the Irongate area. The sessions are at 7 a.m., 9:30 a.m., noon and 2:30 p.m.
The chamber also has a Business-After-Business event on Thursday, Nov. 19 at the downtown Bank of the Pacific office (100 Grand Ave., near Henderson Books). The event will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It’s a networking event which will give potential new members a chance to learn more about the chamber and its members.
For details about these two events or about the chamber, go to Bellingham.com or call 734-1330.
TheStreet.com regularly puts together a list of the most undercapitalized banks. Here is the latest (list,), through Sept. 30. This list of banks is grouped by state on this link, but it can be ranked by Tier 1 leveraged ratio. Horizon is ranked 7th highest on the list, one behind Orion Bank, which was closed on Friday, Nov. 13. Everett-based Frontier Bank is ranked 45th in the U.S.
Here’s a press release from Horizon about the resignation of Steven L. Hoekstra, head of commercial lending operations. It’s an area that has been severely curtailed because of its recent overall lending troubles:
Horizon Financial Corp. (Nasdaq:HRZB), the bank holding company for Horizon Bank (“Bank”), today reported that the Bank has accepted the resignation of Steven L. Hoekstra, Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer, on November 13, 2009. Hoekstra was responsible for the Bank’s commercial lending operations from June 2002 to the present. The members of the current management have assumed the duties of this position.
Horizon Financial Corp. is a $1.30 billion, bank holding company headquartered in Bellingham, Washington. Its primary subsidiary, Horizon Bank, maintains a regional banking presence that has been serving customers for 87 years, and operates 18 full-service offices, four commercial loan centers and four real estate loan centers throughout Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and Pierce Counties in Washington.
Pacific Coast National Bank of San Celmente, Calif. was closed, then taken over by Sunwest Bank of Tustin, Calif. Pacific Coast had two branches. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $27.4 million.
Here’s a press release about a Chicago firm offering to donate $30,000 in marketing services to a tourism-based non-profit:
LOMBARD, ILL. Nov. 13, 2009 – In an effort to give back to an industry that has helped Stevens & Tate Marketing/Endora Digital Solutions thrive in these challenging economic times, the agency will be donating $30,000 in marketing services to one travel and tourism-based non-profit organization. The program, called the “Lend-A-Hand Marketing Giveaway,” was launched this fall and is intended to be an annual pro bono initiative for Stevens & Tate.
Dan Gartlan, president of Stevens & Tate, said, “Time and time again, we have offered pro bono services, allowing us to infuse our shop with meaningful work. This time, we decided to pool our pro bono time and help one non-profit organization take their business to the next level.”
Gartlan explained that the winning candidate will be one that “not only demonstrates strong leadership skills in its industry and in the region it serves, but one we feel could benefit most from our services and has the best potential to implement the final creative project.
“As the economy shifts, the message an organization goes to market with needs to change. And, unfortunately, all too often, many organizations have cut back on creative messaging altogether. We believe we are in a position to help,” said Gartlan.
Entries must be received by Nov. 20. A judging panel made up of Stevens & Tate directors will review all of the applications in late November. Finalists will be selected, notified and interviewed in mid-December. The winner will be notified and announced the week of Dec. 18.
The judging team will place strong emphasis on three criteria:
· A vision for the organization. The agency would need to get a strong sense of “what’s next” as it relates to the winning organization’s mission.
· Strong leadership, which clearly defines the review procedure to expedite the approval process.
· Financial ability to execute what is created. For instance, an ad campaign would necessitate a media budget to follow-through with any creative developed.
The Lend-A-Hand Marketing Giveaway call for nominations is being shared with non-profit organizations throughout major U.S. markets. Eligible candidates are asked to fill out a short online form, which can be found at: www.stevens-tate.com/lendahand For more information about the Lend-A-Hand Marketing Giveaway or the application process, call 630-627-5200.
Stevens & Tate Marketing/Endora Digital Solutions has developed a reputation for advertising excellence and has acquired a diverse client base, specializing in the real estate, senior living, hotel and travel, and food industries. Located just west of Chicago, Stevens & Tate/Endora Digital provides clients with innovative, on-strategy creative, all while providing trackable results. For more information, visit www.stevens-tate.com or call 630-627-5200.
Federal regulators started off this Friday with a couple of bank closures in Florida. Details are below. I’ll update with new posts if there are any more today.
Bank closure No. 121 of 2009:
Century Bank of Sarasota, Fla. was closed, then taken over by IBERIABANK of Lafayette, La. Century had 11 branches. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $344 million.
Bank closure No. 122:
Orion Bank of Naples, Fla., was closed, then taken overy by IBERIABANK of Lafayette, La. Orion had 23 branches. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $615 million.
I didn’t know this until last week when I was looking at a list of problem banks, but Business Bank of Skagit County has been operating under a Cease-and-Desist order by the FDIC since September 1. Among other things, the bank has 120 days to get its Tier 1 Capital (or equity) ratio up to 10 percent. As of Sept. 30, the banks’ ratio was at 8 percent.
Business Bank has an office in Bellingham. It’s the fourth bank with Whatcom County branches to be operating under a cease-and-desist order; the others are Frontier Bank, Horizon Bank and Sterling Savings Bank.
To better control crowds, Wal-Mart is going to keep most of its stores open all night Thursday/Friday of Thanksgiving weekend, so there won’t be the massive lines outside the store, according to the Los Angeles Times. Click here for the link to the story.
According to the story, the Black Friday specials will still start at 5 a.m., but people will be allowed to be inside the store when it starts. The article also mentions other safety measures will be in place, such as spreading the bigger deals in different parts of the store. No doubt part of this is in response to the trampling death last year of a temporary employee in New York.
Having been outside covering the Black Friday festivitites, it seems like a good move for Wal-Mart. They tend to have the longest lines, so the potential for trampling issues is higher.
Here’s an interesting technique being used by the agents for the Meridian Plaza (press release pasted below). What do you think? Will this offer yield results?
BELLINGHAM, Wash. (Nov. 10)- Meridian Plaza launched today its new Tenant Referral Program, a refer-lease-and-earn campaign that promises $2,500 cash for each referral that results in a three-year lease at the newly renovated retail center, located adjacent to I-5, at the intersection of Telegraph Road and Meridian Street in Bellingham.
Meridian Plaza is owned by an affiliate of Hackman Capital Partners, LLC (HCP).
According to Mike Schlesinger, Vice President of Asset Management for HCP, the company excels at creative marketing that attracts tenants to properties, and knows from experience that tenant referrals tend to be qualified prospects who are more likely to sign leases.
“We’ve had great success when tenants refer other tenants,” said Schlesinger. “Now we’re asking Bellingham businesses to send us people they know. Businesses want to keep consumer dollars in the neighborhood.”
The new Meridian Plaza Tenant Referral Program was designed to complement an existing sister program geared to area real estate brokers. The broker program offers leasing bonuses, also $2,500, for each referral that results in a three-year lease, plus $50 bonuses for each property showing.
“We want to spread the word,” said Schlesinger, referring to the recent 32,000 square foot makeover at the retail center. Renovations, which totaled nearly a half-million dollars, feature a new brick and stucco façade, newly designed storefronts with canopies and fabric awnings, a newly resurfaced and restriped parking lot with wheel stops, sidewalks with new concrete benches, new monument signage, lighting, painting and other improvements.
According to Schlesinger, Meridian Plaza’s architectural transformation and prime location in Bellingham’s busiest shopping area—combined with exceptionally aggressive lease rates—create a compelling package for both national and local retailers, as evidenced by its already growing tenant roster, including Rent-A-Center, Red Wing Shoes, Maly’s, Better Nails, Hair 4 You, Thai House Restaurant—and two free-standing restaurant sites, occupied by Burger King and Denny’s Restaurant. Available spaces at Meridian Plaza range from 1,347 to 6,724-plus square feet, with a total of 12,845 square feet available for lease.For more information about Meridian Plaza, visit the website at meridianplazabellingham.com.