The prominent CBD site of the 1950s former Shrine Catholic Church will be transformed into Heritage and People’s Choice’s new Toowoomba head office, CEO Peter Lock announced today.
Mr Lock said the 2,800m2 site at 502 Ruthven Street had been chosen as the ideal location for the head office development, after an exhaustive selection process. The contract for the purchase of the site from the Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba has now been executed.
The multi-million-dollar project will involve removing the current structures on the site and building a new six to seven storey head office complex that will become an icon of the Toowoomba cityscape.
Construction work is anticipated to begin in 2024, pending final designs and approvals, with completion expected in 2027.
Mr Lock said the new development would cement Heritage and People’s Choice’s long-term commitment to Toowoomba and add a dynamic new presence to the city’s CBD.
“We’re excited to have secured this fantastic central site as the home for a stunning new head office and branch that will set the benchmark for office accommodation in Toowoomba,” Mr Lock said.
“We looked long and hard to find the best site for our people and our members and we’re delighted with the benefits this location provides.
“It’s the right size, in a very central location, with three-street frontage and scope to create a welcoming, collaborative environment that our people will enjoy working in to support our members.
“We’re committed to maintaining a head office in Toowoomba and the purchase of this block will enable us to build a new facility here that the city can be extremely proud of.”
The announcement of the new head office location in Toowoomba comes just weeks after the merger of Heritage Bank and Adelaide-based People’s Choice Credit Union became official on 1 March 2023.
Chairman Michael Cameron said the merged entity was committed to maintaining a dual head office structure, with one in Toowoomba and one in Adelaide.
“This project means a massive investment in Toowoomba and underlines our longstanding commitment to this city since our origins here in 1875,” Mr Cameron said.
“Securing this site honours one of our merger commitments – to maintain dual head offices in Toowoomba and Adelaide – and gives us the opportunity to build similar high-quality facilities to those we have in Adelaide.
“Our investment in this exciting development underlines our commitment to our people and our members, and the confidence we have about our future as a strong, national alternative to the listed banks.”
Deputy Chairman Kerry Betros said: “This will be an attractive, highly efficient, 21st century office space used by hundreds of local employees and many more visiting regularly from across Australia.
“While the design of the new building is yet to be finalised, it will be a multi-storey complex of up to seven floors, constructed to provide a quality environment that will help us attract the best people, support them to develop rewarding careers here in Toowoomba and provide better outcomes for our members.
“It’s fitting that this site, which has played such an interesting role in Toowoomba’s history, will become the location of this new building that will become a landmark for the city.”
The site has a 35-metre frontage to Ruthven Street and is bounded by Union Street to the north and Annand Street to the east.
It was home to the Blessed Sacrament Congregation’s Toowoomba Shrine from 1958 to 1995. Popularly known in Toowoomba as “The Shrine”, the Catholic Church has most recently used the site to house a number of its activities, including CatholicCare Social Services and the Offices of the Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba.
Prior to the Church acquiring the block, it was home to the three-storey Imperial Hotel, which was built in 1885. The hotel was designed by prominent Toowoomba architect James Marks, who also designed numerous other Toowoomba landmarks including St Patrick’s Cathedral, St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, St Matthew’s Anglican Church at Drayton, Vacy Hall and Smithfield House.
When the Church bought the block for £60,000 pounds in 1956, it was one of the largest property transactions in Toowoomba’s history.
Heritage and People’s Choice intends to offer its current Toowoomba head office at 400 Ruthven Street for sale. If sold, the property will be leased until the new head office is completed and ready for occupation.