Sarasota couple’s dream has come true, with help from community banks


Raymond Peper and Richard Day sold their Key West property, packed their belongings, stacked patio furniture on a Caprice station wagon, and traveled to Sarasota over 20 years ago to pursue a dream.

The couple had done their due diligence with regards to demographics and expected population out of season. They had a decent capital by selling a condo and a house.

And they had a quarter-inch scale model – complete with paper towel palms – of what would become the John Carl Spa and Salon at 1345 Second St.

But first, they would have to find a bank willing to lend two men – one in their sixties, the other in their mid-fifties – the money to build their dream.

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Raymond Peper, left, and Richard Day pictured in 2006. Herald-Tribune Archives

The challenges Day and Peper faced are almost identical to those faced by small business owners in Sarasota today: accessing capital, working within a budget, delaying parts of the dream for years. In the end, they achieved their goals with the help of people who felt they were worth the risk and the investment.

And with Sarasota now in the midst of a real estate boom, the couple may soon cash in at the right time.

But it was not easy.

They tried out several banks after arriving, each time bringing the foam model to their first meetings. Each time, the story unfolded in much the same way: a few face-to-face meetings, a dive into finances and expected income versus expenses, an overview of the cost of equipment and costs. what it would take to build the structure.

“A month later we got a really nice letter saying they didn’t want to go into the beauty industry,” Peper said.

Perhaps part of the problem was the scale of the project. Day had run beauty salons all his life, starting in Baltimore when he was around 20. Before moving to Key West, he had run two beauty schools and five salons.

The three-story building has commercial space on the first floor and residential space on the second and third floors.  The property is listed for $ 3.7 million.

He said he knew a large living room would work well in downtown Sarasota and their plans called for a structure of nearly 10,000 square feet over four floors. The first floor would be the living room, the second floor would be the spa.

The third and fourth floors would be a residence where both Peper and Day would live.

Banks are risk averse. Starting a new business, especially a customer service oriented business, can be risky. If the operators default, the bank ends up owning real estate and equipment that it does not know how to manage.

Community banks often provide a bridge for small business owners and access to capital. Peper and Day founded their community bank when they met Christine Jennings, then President and CEO of Sarasota Bank.

“We were trying to make everyone understand our dream,” Day said. “They really supported us. “

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Local connection

Jennings recalls meeting the couple in the late 1990s. She said that offering loans to new businesses can be risky, but deciding to lend money requires loan officers to familiarize themselves with the process. character of loan recipients and their level of experience in operating the business.

“You really have to assess the character,” she said. “We thought they might be successful, and boy, were they.”

Jennings noted that about 80% of all businesses in Sarasota County employ 20 or fewer employees, of which 90% employ 50 or fewer.

The loan officer for the Carl Day Salon project was John Pilkington. He has been a loan officer his entire career and mainly in community banks. He currently holds this position at Sabal Palm Bank.

While the big banks can sometimes offer better rates, he said, the loan officer a business owner will deal with is often not located locally. Big banks also have more turnover than small banks.

This can lead to disconnections with small business owners.

“They do them (small business loans),” he said of the big banks. “But they lose the personal touch. They are not fighting the battle.

The battle on behalf of Peper and Day was one that Pilkington fought. Asked about the age of the candidates, he replied that it had not been a factor in the decision.

“You don’t discriminate on the basis of age,” he said. “But the numbers have to make sense.”

Living the dream

The loan from Sarasota Bank allowed Peper and Day to build the structure and build the salon and spa, but there wasn’t enough left to finish the residences.

While the couple hung the first $ 20 bill they made on a living room wall, it will be another five years before they can fulfill the dream they had when they moved to Sarasota of living in- above their workplace.

Day said that while he expected the salon to perform well, it has exceeded his expectations for the past 20 years.

Richard Day and Raymond Peper stand behind the foam scale model they built in Key West during an opening ceremony for the Carl Day Salon.  The show opened at the end of 2000.

However, Day, 79, and Peper, 86, sell the property.

They couldn’t have chosen a better time.

Next to the property, a chain link fence encloses a vacant lot where a 10-story, 12-unit condo project called The Collection is planned. One block away and another luxury condo project called The Beacon plans to start construction in the fall.

While the couple started marketing the property about a year ago, it was only recently that they have generated interest.

Rare combination

Gail Bowden, Senior Investment Advisor at SVN Commercial Advisory Group, is the listing agent. The property is for sale for $ 3.7 million.

Mark Bower, also a senior investment advisor at SVN, is also marketing the property. He said zoning offers a number of options for potential buyers, but particularly medical users could be an ideal solution given the unique characteristics of the property.

“We think this would be a home run for a medical space, especially for plastic surgeons who may want to occupy the lower floors for their practice and use the residence as an extended recovery option for patients who would prefer continued care rather than to go straight home. ,” he said.

With all of the condo activity along Second Street, a residential option is also a possibility, he said. The property could be converted into a large luxury family home or possibly multi-family units.

The third floor patio offers views of downtown Sarasota.

“It represents tremendous value for an investor to have a large footprint so close to all the amenities that downtown Sarasota has to offer,” said Bower. “From a residential standpoint, there is nothing downtown that can approach 1345 on a price per square foot basis.

There is also the possibility that the property could be sold to a developer who would then raze the building for redevelopment, as the zoning would allow for a 10-story structure.

“This is further supported by the fact that the property comes with additional surface land which is included in the sale and is also zoned downtown,” he said. “This is a special property that can be used turnkey or modified to meet the needs of almost any asset class. Rarely is a property available that offers potential, location and value while being of high quality. This property checks all of these boxes.

Whatever happens with the property, Peper and Day plan to take the proceeds from the sale and build in Gillespie Park, just north of where the Carl Day Lounge is located.

But this time, it won’t take five years to move in.

A view of the great room including the kitchen and dining room in Peper and Day's residence above the John Carl Spa & Salon.

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