BB&T Bank Building Tower in Atlanta

The metro area's fourth-largest bank will anchor a new $150 million office tower at the massive Midtown development Atlantic Station.

The 25-story skyscraper, under construction at 271 17th St., will be Atlantic Station's third office building and its tallest. Construction is expected to be finished in spring 2009.

BB&T Bank, headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., signed a 15-year lease on 80,000 square feet and will move its Atlanta headquarters to the site. The bank spent 18 months looking at more than 40 existing and proposed projects before deciding on Atlantic Station, said Lars Anderson, president of BB&T's Georgia operations.

"This move will help us bring employees from across our financial services spectrum to 17th Street," Anderson said.

BB&T's 200 Atlanta employees are scattered among three buildings in Buckhead. BB&T will open a branch in the lobby of the new building and occupy floors eight, nine and 10 initially.

The tower will give BB&T an opportunity to make a much bigger statement in Atlanta. The company plans to display 19-foot illuminated letters on all four sides of the structure, Anderson said.

Atlantic Station is home to the 23-story Wachovia office building at 171 17th St. and a 20-story building at 201 17th St. that opens this month.

Currently, the tallest building there is Twelve Atlantic Station, a six-floor hotel topped by 20 stories of condos. But the Atlantic, a luxury condo tower slated to open in 2009, eventually will be the giant at 46 stories.

Anderson said Atlantic Station's live-work-play environment helps attract and retain employees.

Atlantic Station is a 138-acre former steel plant site next to I-75/85 with retail, hotel and residential development. It opened in 2005; completion is years away. More than 2,500 people live there in apartments, condominiums and detached homes.

No decision has been made on what to do with BB&T's current space in Buckhead, which will still be under lease when it's vacated in two years, Anderson said. But he noted BB&T is growing and might need some of its Buckhead offices.

At Atlantic Station, BB&T will be just down the street from Wachovia's signature Atlanta building. Charlotte-based Wachovia is the second-biggest bank in North Carolina, followed by BB&T. Bank of America is North Carolina's largest bank.

John Whitaker, Atlantic Station CEO, said two law firms also have agreed to lease space in the BB&T building, but added it was too early to name them.

Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback and Associates designed the 535,000-square-foot tower. Carter is managing the project.

AIG Global Real Estate, which works in more than 50 countries, is the Atlantic Station developer.