Office moves to bank building

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It isn't where the tenants send the rent, but it is the place where payments are double-checked.

Shantell Hampton, a senior regional accountant with Equity Residential, works in her new office on the 11th floor of the SunTrust Building.  Tim Rausch/Staff
Tim Rausch/Staff
Shantell Hampton, a senior regional accountant with Equity Residential, works in her new office on the 11th floor of the SunTrust Building.

The top floor of the SunTrust Building is now being used by Equity Residential's accounting department.

The Chicago-based company, one of the largest owners of apartment housing in the country, announced in May that it was closing its Phoenix accounting office and shifting those jobs to its Augusta operation.

Martha Bennett, vice president controller, said the 32 replacement accountants started working last week.

"None of the people from Phoenix wanted to relocate from there to here," Ms. Bennett explained. There are three more local accountants left to hire.

The Phoenix office has only a skeleton crew left, Ms. Bennett said. It will close in November.

The company's former Augusta office, at 624 Ellis St., already had 60 employees. Some of those workers have moved to the SunTrust Building, Ms. Bennett said, and the rest will relocate when renovations of the 10th floor are complete in about a year.

The 11th floor at the top was done in four months to accommodate the new hires.

"To see them expand here and increase their investment here is a great thing for the city of Augusta," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver, who took a tour of the office with other local officials Monday.

"It isn't a home run for downtown, but it is a two-base hit," said Bettis Rainsford, the building's owner.

Equity Residential has had operations in Augusta since 1998, when it merged with Merry Land & Investment Co., a local apartment owner. Equity bought Merry Land for $2.2 billion.

Over time, it sold off its Augusta properties.

"As we've grown as a company, we focused our property ownership in the high-entry markets, like New York and California," Ms. Bennett said.

It has 33 properties and 9,800 units in Atlanta as part of more than 162,500 apartments nationwide. There are none in Augusta.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.


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