Wells Fargo moving all workers from 2 uptown Charlotte towers in coming months

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

The bank will move employees out of One and Two Wells Fargo Center buildings, according to a memo sent to Charlotte-area employees on Tuesday morning. Wells Fargo declined to say exactly how many workers will be impacted by that move, but it is likely that thousands will be changing offices.

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Offices will be consolidated, with workers moving to Three Wells Fargo Center and 550 S. Tryon Street, the former Duke Energy building. Both of those towers will get 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 that Wells Fargo occupied in One Wells Fargo was already just a small piece of its square footage in uptown, he said, less than 10%. That building will likely get a new name as well when a new tenant moves in.

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

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

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“It’s so much easier for our teams to work together when they are together,” said Mary Mack, the bank’s CEO of consumer 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 about 27,000 workers here.

One Wells Fargo Center as seen on Friday, June 24, 2022 in uptown Charlotte, N.C.
One Wells Fargo Center as seen on Friday, June 24, 2022 in uptown Charlotte, N.C.

Uptown vacancy rates

Wells Fargo’s moves impacts more than just the bank’s workers.

Office vacancy rates in uptown were just under 13% as of late last year, according to data from CoStar Group, a real estate research firm. That’s more than double what they were to start 2020, when rates were 6% in uptown.

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

Mary Mack, the bank’s CEO of consumer and small business banking.
Mary Mack, the bank’s CEO of consumer and small business banking.

Other Wells Fargo office changes

In addition to shuffling employees in its uptown buildings, Wells Fargo is also making major upgrades to its Customer Information Center in north Charlotte, close to University City.

Some 10,000 employees work out of the center, a 157-acre campus off of W.T. Harris Boulevard. It’s the bank’s largest employment site across the country, Mack said.

The bank is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the campus over the next several years, adding more work spaces, a new parking deck and a revamped food court.

About One Wells Fargo Center

Dubbed the jukebox building for its curved design, One Wells Fargo Center opened in 1988.

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

The building is under relatively new ownership.

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 managing and operating entity in the building’s ownership.

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

That includes a remodeling of the top two floors from bank executive conference rooms to an amenity space for tenants. There will be lounge seating, billiards, conference rooms and terraces for people to enjoy the sweeping views of uptown Charlotte, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The commercial real estate firm is handling leasing in the building.

The building’s ground-floor lobby also was recently renovated with new furniture. A new coffee shop, Night Swim, opened up inside. The Childress Klein YMCA is located inside the building. Plus, crews have been busy upgrading the outdoor plaza.

Vision Properties invested $10 million in renovations in 2021.

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

Also as of late last year, the average rent for office space in the Charlotte metro area was $32.58 per square foot, according to CoStar. It was $35.76 per square foot in uptown and $43.18 in South End.

Wells Fargo already had taken steps to shrink its footprint in the uptown tower. In 2020, Wells Fargo was set to vacate 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 had left One Wells Fargo Center two to three years ago.

About Two Wells Fargo Center

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

It is one of four office towers that comprise the uptown Wells Fargo Complex. The building has close to 760,000 square feet of space.