Regions Bank moving to Midtown tower

By Maria Saporta
Friday, June 10, 2011

Atlanta’s sixth-largest bank will move to Midtown’s Atlantic Center Plaza, where it will put its name across the top of the 24-story tower — instantly raising its profile.

Regions Financial Corp. plans to consolidate employees from several offices across North Atlanta where its leases are expiring. It wanted to bring its staff under one roof, make its real estate footprint more efficient and save costs, said Bill Linginfelter, the bank’s area president for Georgia and South Carolina.

The biggest advantage, though, might be visibility. The Downtown Connector cuts through Midtown and it’s lined with some of Atlanta’s most prominent office towers.

It’s the same advantage that has drawn banks from other parts of the city to Midtown, including Citizens & Southern National Bank, the forerunner of NationsBank and Bank of America.

Wachovia Corp., later Wells Fargo & Co., left downtown for Midtown. BB&T Corp. left Buckhead. Both banks have a major regional office at Atlantic Station.

“We expect to have signage in this location, and we expect it to be seen by tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people every day with vehicles traveling up and down the Connector,” Linginfelter said. “That’s an exciting prospect for us in terms of brand recognition.”

Region’s main office is at One Glenlake in Sandy Springs, along Interstate 285 and Georgia 400. Its new home will be on West Peachtree Street next to the 50-story One Atlantic Center.

Regions was courted by office building owners across Atlanta. But the bank saw Midtown as having gone through a transition in the last couple of decades into a premier location to have a home, locate an office, and enjoy the arts and culture offered by such amenities as the Woodruff Arts Center.

Regions also liked the upgrades at the 14th Street bridge, which improved the traffic flow in Midtown, and access to MARTA.

“We want to be a vibrant and viable part of metro Atlanta,” Linginfelter said. “This is a central location for our associates and our clients. At the same time, we expect to build out our branches franchise to enhance our presence in metro Atlanta.”

Linginfelter said the move is “about positioning ourselves to be a very big part of the region and this state, and to be a great corporate citizen in the community.”

CB Richard Ellis Inc. is helping broker the deal for Regions Bank at Atlantic Center Plaza. The bank will take about 80,000 square feet in the tower.

Parent company Regions Financial Corp. (NYSE: RF) is seeking more of the spotlight as its competitors, including New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. and San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) push to join SunTrust Banks Inc. (NYSE: STI) and Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) as the city’s biggest financial players.

Regions Bank ranks sixth in Atlanta market share with $3.3 billion in deposits. It’s the only lender in the top seven without a major intown presence.

“Over the last three years, banks wanted to communicate health and stability,” Brian Olasov, managing director with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, said in an e-mail. “Signage on a major building shouldn’t make a difference to a corporate banking client. But at a subconscious level, every time a CFO glances at the top of a bank building, it validates that client’s bank choice.”

Big banks want their corporate offices in strong urban centers, said Rob Metcalf, a managing director with real estate powerhouse Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. Metcalf helped relocate BB&T to Midtown. While downtown and Buckhead are both major urban centers, the visibility from the Connector gives Midtown an edge.

“You have the ability to slap your logo on top of those buildings, and it’s seen by everyone on the Connector,” Metcalf said. “That kind of exposure is hard to beat.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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