Banking giant FNB has spent more than R100 million revamping its massive BankCity head office campus in the Joburg CBD.
That’s the word from FNB CEO Jacques Celliers, speaking to Moneyweb at the relaunch of the campus on Tuesday, following its multi-million-rand upgrade.
“This investment affirms our commitment to the Joburg CBD,” he tells Moneyweb. “It’s just the first phase, but our investment of more than R100 million has resulted in a colourful transformation of the streets around our BankCity precinct.”
Responding to questions about recent violence and chaos in the Joburg CBD, Celliers says while it is a concern, FNB will not be moving out of the city centre.
“We have a massive presence here, with our BankCity campus covering some 181 000m2 and being home to over 12 000 FNB head office staff alone.”
Watch a short video clip showcasing the precinct below:
“We won’t be moving, but are investing in making this a more vibrant and safe working environment.
“It is not just for our staff, but all the people visiting, working and even living in the CBD,” he adds.
While Celliers mentioned several times that the revamp is part of FNB’s first phase of reinvigorating the precinct, he was loath to comment on the next phase of investment.
“We continually invest in maintaining and improving all our head office and key banking properties,” he says. “It is great what Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is doing to revitalise and attract investment back into the city centre. We are supportive of this and look forward to working with other banks and businesses to collaborate and contribute to the effort.”
Speaking at the launch, Mashaba welcomed FNB’s investment, saying the private sector has a key role to play in turning around the Joburg CBD.
“We can’t do this without you,” he said. “We want to turn the Joburg CBD into a construction site and have already released 84 sites for development that will unlock more than R20 billion in private sector investment. The private sector, and in particular the banks, have a key role to play in financing and unlocking such projects.”
Mashaba noted that billions of rands in further private sector investment is in the pipeline. “As the city council, we will be releasing a further 70-plus sites for development by the end of October. This could unlock a further R15-R20 billion in property investment.
“Many of these sites were vacant and have become home to criminal elements or dumping. We want to take the streets back and turn around the city.”
Speaking to Moneyweb last week at an event to mark the start of construction on the first four developments in the CBD land release programme, Mashaba said the first 154 development sites earmarked for city land exclude other major private investments, such as the multi-billion-rand Jewel City development.
Jewel City is being driven by Divercity Urban Property Fund, a new company that is eyeing a JSE listing and is backed by property investment and development heavyweight Atterbury. Other partners and main shareholders in Divercity include Ithemba Property and Talis Property Fund. FNB’s sister company RMB Holdings is a significant shareholder in Atterbury Property Fund and a player in the Jewel City development.
Work, eat, play
Meanwhile, FNB Corporate and Retail Estate CEO Lee-Anne van Zyl says that as part of the revitalised head office campus, some 34 retail tenants are now in place within the BankCity precinct. Many of these are new to the area and include the likes of Food Lover’s Eatery, Afro’s Chicken Shop and Seattle Coffee.
“We are creating a ‘work, eat, play’ experience through a combination of retail tenants that are open to all residents and visitors of the inner-city, in addition to FNB’s 12 000 employees. The first phase of the BankCity upgrade created 150 local jobs and the retailers in the precinct employ approximately 231 people,” she says.
Van Zyl notes that it took nearly 130 000 hours to create new retail spaces and the colourful Fraser Street surface that connects Pritchard and Jeppe streets within FNB’s BankCity precinct.
“People are the heart of the inner-city and our business, therefore our vision is to create an environment that is safe and welcoming to our colleagues, residents and visitors to the inner-city,” she says. “In fact, our plans include the introduction of the City Sightseeing Joburg hop-on tourist bus service by March next year. We also have other innovations up our sleeve, including markets and live events.”