Wednesday, August 20, 2014

SunTrust explains need for more space in new HQs

Yesterday, I reported on SunTrust Bank's decision to increase the number of floors it plans to lease at its new regional headquarters in SouthPark.

For those who didn't see the story, SunTrust has announced it will lease space on four floors (original plans called for three) in the building, which is part of the mixed-use Sharon Square project. SunTrust plans to move into the space this fall, exact date not yet announced.

The bank couldn't make Bill Peele,  president of the bank's Mecklenburg/South Carolina region, available for comment yesterday, but I caught up with him this morning to find out why the bank needs more space in the building.

Peele
Basically, Peele said, the extra space is needed for all the additional bankers SunTrust has been adding in the Charlotte region.

Among other things, he pointed to the recent relocation of SunTrust's Mid-Atlantic corporate banking operation from Richmond, Va., to Charlotte.

SunTrust has also been adding personnel in Charlotte for its wholesale banking and private wealth management operations, he said.

All of that has created the need for SunTrust to take on more square footage in the Sharon Square building than it originally planned, he said.

"We were running out of space in really all of buildings," he said.

(It's worth noting that it's unclear whether SunTrust's overall employment in the Charlotte region has been rising or falling, as the bank does not provide employment figures by market. The company as a whole had 26,281 full-time equivalent employees as of the end of last year, down by 497 compared with the end of 2012.)

As you might recall, SunTrust plans to vacate some of the buildings it occupies in Charlotte as it consolidates those operations into the new headquarters. The bank is completely pulling out of space it has been leasing in two places and relocating those operations to Sharon Square: 6836 Morrison Blvd., where Peele and other functions have been based, and Piedmont Town Center, where it has a capital markets trading operation.

The bank is also relocating some personnel -- in commercial banking, as well as other areas -- from a building it owns at 101 S. Kings Drive to the new headquarters, Peele said. Some personnel and the branch will remain at the Kings Drive site and the bank will continue to own the building, he said.

All told, SunTrust will occupy the entire second, third and fourth floors of the five-story Sharon Square building and part of the first floor, where a branch is already in operation.

Atlanta-based SunTrust is the fifth-largest bank by market share in the Charlotte region.

While part of the move to Sharon Square is designed to boost visibility for the regional lender as it seeks to grow market share, Peele said the move is motivated by more than that. By housing certain functions under the same roof, such as commercial banking and wealth management, it helps the bank better serve those clients and meet more of their needs, he said.

“This whole thing was not about expense saving, but really about synergy," he said.

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Harry Lee said...
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