Wachovia Corp. apparently won't be moving its headquarters to Atlanta after all.

The company announced plans Monday to build a new 20-story headquarters in Winston-Salem, N.C., within two blocks of its present 30-story structure, which is 27 years old.

Construction of the new building, which will have about 400,000 square feet, is expected to begin by early 1994, with scheduled for late 1995.

The announcement comes after years of speculation that Wachovia would move its base to Atlanta, which it entered through acquisition in 1986.

Opting to Stay Put

Wachovia runs its corporate banking, operation services, and consumer credit divisions from Atlanta, but the top holding-company functions - financial management, loan administration, trust, and administrative services - are likely to remain in Winston-Salem, where Wachovia Bank was founded in 1879.

"This is clearly an indication we intend to remain here," said L.M. "Bud" Baker Jr., chief executive officer of Wachovia Bank of North Carolina.

While it became customary in recent decades for banks to build signature towers in their home cities - often the tallest in town - Wachovia opted for "practicality and beauty on the ground," said Mr. Baker. The new building will be 10 stories shorter than the old one while covering twice the ground. "We weren't hung up on height at all." Mr. Baker said.

Wachovia has retained Taylor & Mathis Inc. as development manager. The Atlanta-based firm will coordinate the selection of architects nd general contractor with Bruce P. Miller & Associates, Wachovia's real estate adviser.

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