The tallest building in New Orleans is getting a new name and major new tenant.
Whitney Bank announced Friday that it will relocate its regional headquarters downtown into space at One Shell Square at 701 Poydras St. and rename the building Hancock Whitney Center.
Whitney, which was acquired by Hancock Bank in 2010, will move all 400 of its employees and operations currently located at 228 St. Charles Ave. into seven floors of unoccupied space at One Shell Square in 2018.
“We have had deep roots in this community since our inception in 1883, and today is a major milestone in our long history here in New Orleans and across the Gulf South,” said Hancock Holding Company and Whitney Bank CEO John Hairston in a statement. “Adding our name to the New Orleans skyline and upgrading our local headquarters right in the heart of the Central Business District is another symbol of our commitment to the city and region. It reinforces our commitment to serving the entire greater New Orleans area and the broader Gulf South corridor as we have for more than a century.”
The bank plans to open a new financial center in the building's second floor lobby.
The 51-story, 697-foot tall building One Shell Square is the tallest building in both the city and state. For four years in its early history, it was even the tallest building in the southeast (though the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta surpassed it in 1976). Located at St. Charles Avenue and Poydras Street, the limestone and glass skyscraper opened in 1972. It was developed by Gerald D. Hines and designed by the noted architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.
The office building's main tenant and namesake for the past 40 years has been Shell Oil Company. According to The New Orleans Advocate, Shell will continue to house more than 1,400 workers and contractors on 18 floors at the building.
“Hancock Holding Company and Whitney Bank are making a long-term commitment to the local community and economy with this move, and it is win-win for our city, our clients, and our company,” said Whitney Bank President Joe Exnicios. “It gives us a more efficient and usable space to provide better services and products, and it gives us room to grow.”
As for Whitney's current facilities at 228 St. Charles Ave., where it has been headquartered for more than a century, the bank says it is working on "a transaction to transform the legacy facility into a magnificent symbol of the growing New Orleans economy.”
More than 300 bank employees who work in a facility at the University of New Orleans will stay in their offices at the lakefront, Whitney said.