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'Pretty devastating': 800,000 sq ft building sits empty as Centene pulls out of Charlotte HQ location



CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — What was once considered the largest job announcement in Charlotte’s history is no more.

Centene Corporation, a giant among health insurance companies, has canceled plans to build an East Coast Headquarters in Charlotte’s University City.

In July 2020, the company announced that they were planning to come to Charlotte and will eventually employ 3,200 people in the area. The company said it expected to bring a total of 6,000 new jobs in the coming years, investing $1 billion into its expansion.

“This property was a wooded, natural place and then all of a sudden, clear cut, building constructed over the past two years and now not to be used. That’s pretty devastating,” Justin Handy said.

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Over the last two years, Handy has watched the 800,000-square-foot building come to life on Governor Hunt Road.

Like him, city and state leaders were optimistic about its potential.

“I mean it was just a game changer type investment for our city,” Charlotte City Councilman Greg Phipps said.

At the time, the company’s CEO said Charlotte had everything it was looking for. Now, it says a shift in fundamental work structure is the factor behind the decision to cancel its plans.

In a statement to Queen City News, Centene said about 90 percent of its employees either work remotely or on a hybrid schedule.

“I am also a flexible remote worker. Going back to the office is probably not a thing to continue,” Handy said.

“We are disappointed that Centene won’t be moving into the amazing campus it has built-in Charlotte, but we are excited for the potential that site will bring. We know Centene is drastically cutting back its office space across the country to move to a telework model, and we look forward to their continued Medicaid services as they hire more North Carolinians all over our state,” said Deputy Communications Director for Gov. Roy Cooper’s office Mary Scott Winstead

In a city full of condensing office space, Charlotte leaders say they have no other choice but to be optimistic that another company or companies will take over the property.

“We have a stand-alone building there that is just waiting to be occupied, and hopefully, we can get some company ready to come in that might have a different business model that can appreciate office space like that,” Phipps said.

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