CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Uptown Charlotte is more than the skyscrapers and people that fill them – downtown districts across the country provide an economic boost for the entire region that surrounds them.
“The power of your downtown is really important for the way that the entire regional economy works,” said James LaBar, vice president of economic development for Charlotte Center City Partners.
During the pandemic, uptown offices cleared out as employees worked from home. Three years later, empty floors still remain.
Barry Fabyan is the senior managing director of agency leasing with the JLL commercial real estate firm. He says about 185 floors in some of the city’s most iconic buildings are vacant — more than double from pre-pandemic figures.
Just this week, a financial services firm based in Minneapolis announced it will be expanding in the Queen City. Ameriprise Financial plans to open a corporate office in the Barings building on South Tryon Street. It plans to open its two-floor corporate office space by fall and gradually fill about 400 positions.
“It’s really exciting when an out-of-market company comes in and makes a presence,” LaBar said. “Three-hundred to 400 jobs, taking down a series of floors right here in uptown. [It] adds to our financial services niche.”
By 2025, Fabyan says about two million square feet of office lease will expire.
As hybrid work models continue to take over corporate America, companies coming in are looking for modern workspaces.
Labar says right now, the majority of vacancies in uptown are in buildings built in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.
“So, the question is: ‘What is the use of it for it in the future?’” he posed. “We firmly believe that those buildings will be filled again with office prospects and if not for those office prospects, those buildings will need to be repositioned.”
Labar says the city is looking into the possibility of modernizing buildings or converting them into other uses like residential spaces.
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