Long Beach Business Journal – Real Estate & Development

Experienced Bancap Principals Thrive In Local Waters By Barbara Crane, Staff Writer

To paraphrase an adage, “If you want something done ask a busy person.” Bacncap’s three partners, Steve Conley. John Hancock und Whit Latimer, principals in the 20-year-old company, give truth to this saying. All three are “graduates” of successful careers in large corporations. They now place equal importance on business and community activities, combining full plates or entrepreneurial ventures with leadership on some of Long Beach’s most significant commissions and organizations.

A Real Estate Investment Firm

When Conley and Hancock founded Bancap in the early 1980s, they envisioned a real estate investment firm. Accordingly, they raised $30 million of private investor funds. from over 300 investors to underwrite 20 Bancap partnerships in California and Colorado. Purchasing primarily commercial and Industrial properties, they saw their company take off. Eventually, the tax benefits or partnerships diminished. While most of those initial investment properties have been sold, Bancap retained Columbia Medical Building and Hartley Medical Building, for which they provide property management services. They provide similar services for Hillside Medical Plaza, which they lease and manage for another owner. Ongoing management activities such as electrical retrofits and leasing nearly 120,000 square feet of medical suites takes the majority of Latimer’s time. He joined the company in 1985 as controller and soon became chief financial officer and third principal.

Revitalizing Marina Drive

In the last decade, Bancap’s activities have focused on Marina Drive, the restaurants and shopping areas that line the bay from 2nd Street to Alamitos Bay Landing. Answering a 1992 City of Long Beach RFP (request for proposal) to modify and rebuild the Alamitos Bay Marina Center, they supervised expansion of West Marine, the complex’s largest commercial space, as well as expanding the Seal Beach Yacht Club. By providing about $2 million in private capital, they helped the city attain its goals and eamed their investment back with rent credits.

When the opportunity came to develop Alamitos Bay Landing (formerly Seaport Village  in 1996, they put their compony behind the effort. At the time, only 44% of the space was occupied. They negotiated land lease with the city and remodeled a substantial portion of the project. Today, all Alamitos Bay Landing properties are either rented or committed. Khoury’s Retaurant has proved popular for meals and events; the Jolly Roger has reinvented itself as Buster’s Beachhouse, and a complement of water-oriented businesses are either located on the site or will soon be joining retail outlets like the Alamitos Bay Yarn Company and Salon-By-The-Sea Day Spa. Bancap’s revitalization efforts hit a snag however, when they proposed a bed-and-breakfast on the long Beach Marine Bureau site adjacent to Alamitos Bay Landing. Conley explains. “We backed away when the community objected,” suggesting they instead put the B&B on the Alamitos Bay Landing site. The Alamitos Bay Master Plan Committee has recently approved consultant’s recommendation for this proposal.

Two aspects of Alamitos Bay Landing are particularly exciting to the partners. For one, the city and Long Beach Transit chose the site as the southern stop for AquaLink, the new water transport between downtown and Long Beach’s east side. The Passport bus also newly serves the area. A second area of Bancap’s interest in Alamitos Bay Landing centers around the 20,000 square foot, two-story building the firm will rebuild on the site’s north side. The popular restaurant McKenna’s Creek, is considering returning to Long Beach to occupy pan of the space, which will also house North Sails, a sail manu facturer and, much to the trio’s satisfaction, Bancap’s new offices.

Their continuing interest in upgrading Marina Drive has led Bancap to help the city negotiate a lease with the Crab Pot, where the Charthouse was a fixture for many years. “The company maintains  a management role. And, for six hours every Sunday morning, a Farmer’s Market organized by the Long Beach Ecumenical Council offers fresh produce to ease side residents and others, making it the city’s highest grossing fanner’s market for food purchases in the last few months.

A Passion For Long Beach Betterment

With more than fresh vegetables and marine air on their minds, Bancap’s principals spend about 25 percent of their time on community activities. As Hancock says, “It’s very enjoyable to know that you’re in a community where you not only earn a living but where you can also give back.” All were Boy Scouts and have served on the Long Beach Area Council. All are Rotary members. Each has also devoted time to a myriad of activities that together read like a “Who’s Who” of Long Beach organizations which include the arts, hospital boards and educational institutions. And each has centered his attention on a particular primary activity. Hancock has served as a Long Beach Harbor Commissioner for six years and gets satisfaction from helping to guide the largest port in the country. The mayor and city council recently reappointed him to a second six-year term. Conley says that his term with the Long Beach Water Commission has enabled him to “Contribute to the Long Beach Water Department, which is considered one of the best in the country and one of the most effectively managed.”

Latimer, following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps as Rotary chapter presidents, is president of the Long Beach chapter. Attracting high profile speakers like Mark Victor Hansen, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Broadway actress Susan Egan, helps Latimer achieve his goal of continuing to attract young members. The organization works toward eradicating polio worldwide by 2005, Latimer explains. Locally, it awards 130 scholarships a year to Long Beach City College and California State University, Long Beach, as well as providing $60,000 annually to local charities with a focus on youth and education.

“We all came from large corporate environments and appreciate our ability to work in a small corporate environment.” Conley explains, giving one reason for their successful venture. ” Mutual trust and respect,”  Hancock adds, while Latimer explains. “None of us are 100 percent right and we know it. It’s an incredible relationship.”

What the Future Holds

For now and the next few years,  Bancap’s future rests with Conley, Hancock and Latimer. None see bringing in another partner, although all see the possibility of working with an investor on a particular project. “We expect to expand our third party management and leasing services and will continue 10 be on the lookout for projects where we can continue to develop a positive relationship with the city,” Hancock says.

Turning again t0 community involvement, Latimer will lead the Boy Scout’s Long Beach Area Council in 2004-5, while Hancock sees becoming involved in more community organizations. Conley may be the most visible, however. Look for him al the Aquarium of the Pacific where he suits up on Thursday afternoons and takes on a new persona, volunteer diver. “You’re good for Long Beach,” a colleague wrote to the trio after a recent Bancap function.


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