“We remain committed tenants and continue to play a key role in the revival of the Johannesburg inner city, as we continue to contribute towards building a greener future through such developments for the city and its people,” says FNB CEO Michael Jordaan.
But it was also a property development milestone, with the opening of FNB Place marking the completion of a vision formed all the way back in the late 1980's.
In reflecting on the decision taken by its board to proceed with the development on October 16, 1987, Jordaan acknowledged that the initial catalyst had been the need for “additional parking”.
“Parking had become a major issue at Bank City and, as the problem persisted, it was considered prudent to unlock the potential of this site, which had been vacant property for many years,” Jordaan mused.
But FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana argued that, with the completion of the development, the focus had shifted to that of being an expression of confidence in the future, as well as a commitment to reviving the inner city.
“My predecessors expressed their confidence when they built the original blocks. Our optimism for the future has been rewarded with the completion of the Bank City project,” Nxasana added.
Back in 1987, the bank's board gave its approval for the exercise options to purchase sites on seven city blocks in the north western CBD of Johannesburg.
While parking was a priority then, the feasibility study indicated that it would also make sense to incorporate an additional office component into the building. “This thought was motivated by the concept of moving large business units from third-party leases into bank owned space,” Jordaan ruminated.
FNB's initial requirements meant that only four blocks were completed in 1995 to create the heart of the bank's new head office complex. Over the years, additional blocks have been built on the sites purchased in the late 1980s. No additional land was purchased for the project and the original plan to redevelop seven city blocks remained intact.
Today, some 7 800 employees are housed in the wider complex, reflecting the remarkable growth of the bank and the South African economy. While the bank's total staff numbers have hardly changed over 20 years (FNB employed 26 062 people in 1988, 28 500 in 2010), the nature of banking has changed beyond recognition.
The bank's current focus on technology, efficiencies and innovation created a strong demand for development and management processes to deliver banking services to some 6,5-million customers. The tenants for FNB Place will be Ebucks, Retail Forex and the Card Division.
Ebucks is moving into the building within the next few weeks and the building will be fully occupied within the first quarter of this year.
Jordaan noted that the bank was committed to staying and growing in the inner city, and promised that FNB would continue to play a positive role in the future development and renewal of the CBD.