An S&L spills out of Beverly Hills while others try to come in

Has the mini-financial hub to Beverly Hills reached the saturation point, running out of space to accomodate financial institutions? Not quite. There's always room for more, somewhere. And several banks and savings and loan associations are seeking regulatory approval to establish branches here, joining all major banks and an assortment of medium-size foreign and independent banks, plus a number of S&Ls with offices on the scene.

But space to lease -- or build -- is virtually nonexistent, so popular is the posh community as a magnet for anything related to money. Lease rates are the highest of any place in the Los Angeles area.

With its operations space growing tighter and with no suitable place to go within city limits, Beverly Hills Federal Savings and Loan Association -- after a half century in the city -- plans to move its headquarters late this year 55 miles southeast to Mission Viejo, in adjacent Orange County.

The S&L, which has converted to state charter (thus dropping "Federal" from its name), has almost $450 million in assets. Finding space tight and expensive in its neighborhood, where it is now leasing 50,000 square feet, "we determined it is in the best interests to own our building rather than lease," said president Dennis M. Fitzpatrick. His S&L has "a lot of administrative functions" that don't require the expense of high rent, he adds.

"We found a good opportunity in Mission Viejo, which, of course, is a tremendous community," Mr. Fitzpatrick points out. Mission Viejo, 11 miles north of San Diego County, is one of the newer communities in California.

The Beverly Hills S&L will move its headquarters and 95 staff members to its own $7 million, three-level, 139,137-square-foot building on a seven-acre site in Mission Viejo. It will occupy most of the structure and lease out the rest. The S&L is not unknown in Orange County. IT has branches in Tustin, Laguna Hills, and Corona del Mar, plus a soon-to-open facility in Brea, all in Orange County, which, Mr. Fitzpatrick says, accounts for 70 percent of its lending activity.

The S&L will continue to be represented in Beverly Hills, however. Its current headquarters site will become a branch operation.

And will a new location mean a new name?

"No," Mr. Fitzpatrick declares. "Beverly Hills is a very good national name." and he points to Downey Savings and Loan Association, a $1.2 billion-in-assets institution, which also retained its name after moving a few years ago from Downey in Los Angeles County to Costa Mesa, also in Orange County.

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