27 October 2021
Heritage Bank Chairman Mr Kerry Betros will today announce plans to develop a new Head Office complex in the Toowoomba CBD, a move that cements the bank’s long-term commitment to maintaining the city as its headquarters.
Mr Betros will make the announcement at Heritage’s AGM in Toowoomba.
The plans involve building a state-of-the-art campus-style complex in the heart of the city, providing a minimum of 5,000m2 floor space for Heritage.
No site for the project has yet been identified, but the goal is to feature an iconic design that would be highly visible in the Toowoomba CBD and become a city landmark.
Heritage will soon finalise a selection process to appoint a development partner for the project. That partner will then work with Heritage to identify a suitable site, develop the building design and plans, and undertake a procurement process to build the new Head Office.
At this early stage, no costing is available but the investment would be significant.
In an innovative move, Heritage intends placing the new building into a property trust that members would have the chance to invest in.
The aim is to complete construction by 2025, in time to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Toowoomba Permanent Building Society, the forerunner to Heritage Bank.
Mr Betros said the project was not dependent on Heritage’s proposed merger with Adelaide-based People’s Choice Credit Union, and would proceed even if the merger did not eventuate.
However, he said the new building would help fulfil the dual Head Office structure that is a key commitment in the merger agreement.
“Toowoomba is our home and we are absolutely committed to retaining our Head Office here,” Mr Betros said.
“We’re very proud of our history in Toowoomba which stretches back almost 150 years.
“We’re cementing that commitment by launching this plan to build a new headquarters in the heart of the Toowoomba CBD. Our vision is to create a new home that will become an iconic landmark for the city and help shape the future of Toowoomba forever.
“We will work with our development partners to identify the right site and move forward with this project, which will be a game-changer both for Heritage and the Toowoomba region.
“Importantly, if the proposed merger proceeds, both Heritage and People’s Choice are committed to maintaining dual Head Offices – one in Toowoomba and one in Adelaide.
“This project would deliver a landmark Head Office building in Toowoomba that would fulfil that commitment, while also signifying the strength of our ongoing commitment to this region.
“While this project fits perfectly with the merger proposal, we believe it’s so important for Toowoomba that we will push forward with our plans, independent of progress on the merger."
Heritage CEO Peter Lock said the new building would feature a design that incorporated the best of modern thinking on workplace functionality.
“We’re looking for a campus-style design that incorporates greater connectivity for staff, green spaces and collaboration areas, as well as features such as a child care centre, gym, and café,” he said.
“We want to create a building with facilities that will be open to the community as well as our people.
“The existing Head Office building is more than 40 years old. We’ve outgrown its capacity and the design doesn’t really lend itself to modern ways of working.
“The new Head Office complex will be a contemporary and modern workplace, designed with the lessons of COVID in mind to fit hybrid working models, as well as providing us with added capacity to cater for future growth.”
Mr Lock said Heritage would continue using its current Head Office building until the new complex was finished, and then make a decision on its future use. That could be either the sale of the building or leasing out the space for commercial use.
“Placing the new building in a property trust would be an innovative approach that would also provide an investment vehicle for members,” he said.
“The proposed trust would be structured so that our members could make an investment that would generate an ongoing return for them, backed by our commitment to Toowoomba,” Mr Lock said.
“It would be a great opportunity to provide members with yet another benefit from being part of a financial institution that puts people first.