May 2019
Borrower Profile
SBA 504 Loan Helps in Revitalization of Historic Florida Panhandle Inn

The Gibson Inn was built in 1907 at the peak of Apalachicola’s reign as the center for the lumber and shipping industry along Florida’s Forgotten Coast.  Minutes away from the sugar white sand beaches of St. George Island and Cape San Blas, this historic landmark will soon feature its largest expansion to date.

The historic Gibson Inn in Apalachicola will soon feature its largest expansion to dateThe Gibson Inn is a fine example of Florida “cracker” architecture, which was the style of wood frame structures used widely in 19th and early 20th century Florida.  These homes and businesses are characterized by metal roofs, raised floors, high ceilings, center hallways and large wraparound porches.

A widow’s walk and cupola crown the metal roof of the Gibson Inn, all a reflection of the area’s steamboat past.  Many of these features are what motivated Steven Etchen to purchase the property.  As part of the acquisition, the “main” inn containing 30 rooms will be completely updated and revitalized.  An annex behind the inn will be updated and converted to 6 large guest rooms.

The building across the street, which currently functions as an office, will be replaced by a 5,100 square-foot facility to be constructed, featuring 8 new guest rooms upstairs, and a spa and fitness center, which will be located downstairs.  Finally, an in-ground pool will be built on the vacant parcel adjacent to this structure.

To finance the $5.3 million purchase and extensive renovation of the historic inn, Etchen worked with Florida First Capital and secured the necessary capital through the Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan Program with only a 15% equity injection.

“The fact that the 504 Loan Program provides a one-stop shop for both the purchase and renovation/expansion is a key feature that makes the 504 loan program so attractive to these types of projects,” said Stacey Green, Florida First Capital Business Development Officer for the Northwest & Florida Panhandle.  “Not to mention the low down payment requirement that helps the borrower save valuable working capital for the business.”

The SBA 504 Loan Program provides up to 90% financing at below-Prime, fixed interest rates and long amortization terms up to 25 years for the purchase of major fixed assets, such as owner-occupied commercial real estate, energy efficient “green” initiatives and/or fixed heavy duty machinery and equipment.

504 loans are paired with private-sector commercial loans and provide up to $5 million of aggregate SBA eligibility on standard 504 projects; up to $5.5 million per 504 energy efficient green project not exceed $16.5 million in the aggregate; and up to $5.5 million per eligible small manufacturing project with no limit on total SBA dollars available.  These are SBA 2nd mortgage loan portions only; there is no limit on overall project dollar size.

Visit the Gibson Inn online at, or, even better, in person!

For more information about SBA 504 loans in Alabama, Florida or South Georgia, contact a Florida First Capital Loan Officer or email us at  Phone: 850.681.3601 or toll-free at 800.504.LOAN.