Wells Fargo is moving headquarters workers from downtown Charlotte in 2023

Wells Fargo is moving headquarters workers from downtown Charlotte in 2023

Wells Fargo is making big changes to its office spaces in Charlotte, including a move out of the downtown building that served as the East Coast hub for the bank and its predecessor for nearly four decades.

The bank will move employees out of Buildings One and Two Wells Fargo Center, according to a memo sent to Charlotte-area employees Tuesday morning. Wells Fargo declined to say exactly how many workers will be affected by the move, but thousands are likely to change offices.

Offices will be consolidated, with workers moving to Three Wells Fargo Center and 550 S. Tryon Street, the former Duke Energy building. Both of these towers will receive new names as part of the changes.

The bank will sell Two Wells Fargo Center, spokesman Josh Dunn confirmed Tuesday, and the new owner will control the naming rights.

The space Wells Fargo occupied in One Wells Fargo was already a small portion of its square footage in the downtown area, he said, less than 10%. This building will likely receive a new name when a new tenant moves in.

The S. Tryon Street Tower will effectively become the bank’s new headquarters in Charlotte. By the end of this year, Wells Fargo will occupy 95% of the office space at 550 S. Tryon, the memo says. The bank already owned the building.

Wells Fargo is also making major facility upgrades, renovating 21 floors at 550 S. Tryon and 14 floors at the Three Wells Fargo Center at 401 S. Tryon St.

“It’s so much easier for our teams to work together when they’re together,” said Mary Mack, CEO of retail and small business banking, in an interview Tuesday with The Charlotte Observer. “We want to create the environment where people want to be here.”

Wells Fargo is based in San Francisco but has its largest employment hub in Charlotte, with around 27,000 workers here.

One Wells Fargo Center seen Friday, June 24, 2022 in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina Arthur H. Trickett-Wile atrickett-wile@charlotteobserver

Vacancy rate in the city center

Wells Fargo’s decisions don’t just affect bank employees.

Downtown office vacancy rates were just under 13% at the end of last year, according to data from CoStar Group, a real estate research firm. That’s more than double what they were at the start of 2020, when rates were 6% in the city center.

Vacancy rates for the entire Charlotte market were around 11% at the end of 2022; they stood at around 6.9% in the first quarter of 2020.

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Mary Mack, CEO of retail and small business banking. Diedra Laird dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Other changes to the Wells Fargo office

In addition to moving employees to its downtown buildings, Wells Fargo is also making major improvements to its customer information center in North Charlotte near University City.

Some 10,000 employees work from the center, a 157-acre campus off WT Harris Boulevard. It’s the bank’s largest job site across the country, Mack said.

The bank is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the campus over the next few years, adding more workspaces, new parking, and a renovated food court.

About One Wells Fargo Center

Nicknamed the Jukebox Building for its curved design, One Wells Fargo Center opened in 1988.

At 42 stories – or about 590 feet – it was the tallest building in Charlotte at the time. As many as 3,000 bank employees worked in the building, which was developed by Childress Klein for Wells Fargo’s predecessor, First Union.

The building belongs to a relatively new owner.

It was last sold in March 2016 to an LLC affiliated with Nevada businessman Dennis Troesch for $284 million. Tampa-based Vision Properties is the property management and operating entity for the building.

Tuesday’s announcement comes at a time when the jukebox building is undergoing a number of changes.

This includes a remodel of the top two floors, from the bank executives’ conference rooms to an amenity space for tenants. There will be lounge seating, billiards, conference rooms and patios for people to take in the stunning views of downtown Charlotte, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The commercial real estate agency takes care of the rental of the building.

The lobby on the ground floor of the building has also been recently renovated with new furniture. A new cafe, Night Swim, has opened inside. The Childress Klein YMCA is located inside the building. In addition, the teams have been busy improving the outdoor plaza.

Vision Properties invested $10 million in renovations in 2021.

At the end of last year, One Wells Fargo was 62% leased, according to a fact sheet provided to The Charlotte Observer by Cushman & Wakefield. Asking rents were between $38.50 and $42 per square foot.

Also at the end of last year, the average office rent in the Charlotte metro area was $32.58 per square foot, according to CoStar. It was $35.76 per square foot in the downtown area and $43.18 in the South Quarter.

Wells Fargo had already taken steps to reduce its footprint in the downtown tower. In 2020, Wells Fargo was expected to free up more than 500,000 square feet of space in the building over the next year and a half, the Charlotte Business Journal reported at the time.

On Tuesday, Dunn told the Observer that most Wells Fargo employees left One Wells Fargo Center two or three years ago.

About Two Wells Fargo Center

Originally called Jefferson First Union Tower and later First Union Plaza, the 32-story building was completed in 1971.

It is one of four office towers that make up Wells Fargo’s downtown complex. The building has nearly 760,000 square feet of space.

This story was originally published January 31, 2023 11:00 a.m.

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Hannah Lang covers banking, finance and economic equity for The Charlotte Observer. His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Triangle Business Journal and Greensboro News & Record. She studied business journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in the same town as her alma mater.

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