Popular Bank grows in Miami Lakes

Featured By David Snelling, Reporter Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Popular Bank grows in Miami Lakes

Popular Bank has been a presence in Miami Lakes for more than 15 years. A new regional headquarters planned for the center of town will represent its on-going prosperity.

     Popular Bank is a tenant of The Kislak Organization in its building at 7900 Northwest 154th St., and Kislak will build the bank’s new five-story home that will rise next door.

     It may be occupied in 2022.

     Thomas Bartelmo, president and chief executive officer of The Kislak Organization, said the total cost of the project is $26 million, including the estimated value of the land.

    “It’s good to have a large business here in the town of Miami Lakes,” Bartelmo said. “It’s part of supporting our businesses and a large regional bank is a real positive for the community.”

     The new building, at Northwest 79th Avenue, will be built on 6.46 acres; the fa├žade will face Northwest 154th Street.

     The project has 67,917 square feet, with two floors of offices over three floors of parking and two small offices on the ground floor.  

     The Miami Lakes town council approved Kislak’s site plan on July 14.

    Like all properties in Business Park West, Business Park East and Town Center, the property has protective covenants and will need approval from the Miami Lakes Architecture Control Committee for Commercial Properties to move forward, according to The Graham Companies.

     Israel Velasco, Popular Bank’s South Florida region executive, said the roof includes amenities for employees such as a gymnasium and 5,000 square feet for dining and gatherings.

     “You see amenities like that in Brickell and Coral Gables but they are not available in Miami Lakes,” said Velasco, who’s held his position for 15 years. “Now we are happy to bring these amenities to our employees.”

Velasco, 56, said the building is expected to be completed in 2021.

     The bank has 15 branches in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.     

     In Miami Lakes, it needs more space to accommodate its growing staff that numbers more than 130, Velasco said.

     “Kislak made it clear that they wanted to keep us  in Miami Lakes,” he said.   “They didn’t want us to go anywhere else when we needed more space.”

     The bank may need a new home after its new one is built.

     “We are expected to grow by 10 percent each year,” he said.

     Velasco said Miami Lakes was a logical choice for Popular Bank’s regional headquarters because it’s a central location for employees who live in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. 

     The bank’s South Florida assets are worth over $3 billion and in the U.S., over $10 billion, Velasco said.

     It does business as Banco Popular in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

     Popular Bank has been a source of relief for its commercial clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Velasco.

     To help save clients’ businesses, the bank issued loans in South Florida through the federal Paycheck Protection Plan that were worth over $200 million, the banker said.

     “We are very proud of that,” Velasco said. “Most banks weren’t ready or were not responsive with the PPP. We were ready to help our commercial clients and as a result, our clientele has grown.”


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