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Charleston tech firm Blackbaud inks deal to buy its HQ

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Blackbaud moved into its new world headquarters (above) on Daniel Island in mid-2018. File/Staff

One of the Charleston region's biggest technology employers is set to take ownership of a sizable commercial real estate deal.

Blackbaud Inc. disclosed to shareholders that it signed a binding agreement this week to buy the corporate headquarters it moved into about two years ago from its landlord for $76.3 million.

The sale of the 172,000-square-foot building at 65 Fairchild St. on Daniel Island would mark one of the largest transactions in the area for an office property. It's expected to close in the second half of the year. 

The deal includes a neighboring tract that Blackbaud has previously said would be reserved for future expansions.

"This is a strategic decision with a focus on improving our long-term financial position while offering additional flexibility as we plan for future phases of our headquarters, so we can continue to support our people, serve our customers and preserve the powerful foundation of our company," it said in a written statement Friday.

The sale price includes $63 million that an affiliate of Holder Properties Inc. borrowed to develop the 13-acre office campus. Blackbaud will take over that debt. The $13.3 million balance will be paid to the Atlanta-based real estate developer.

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The sale agreement also calls for Blackbaud to hire Holder Properties to provide its expertise if the technology company decides to develop the surrounding property.

Founded in New York about four decades ago, Blackbaud is a global Nasdaq-listed business that sells software and services developed specifically for donor-funded nonprofit groups, or what it calls "social good" organizations. 

The company moved to South Carolina in 1988 and planted its corporate flag on Daniel Island Drive about 20 years ago.

Work began on the Fairchild Street headquarters around 2016. When the first building was unveiled in mid-2018, Blackbaud promised to add 300 new jobs to its local payroll within five years and build up to another 188,000 square feet of office space.

In 2019, Blackbaud earned $11.9 million on sales of $831 million, and it had slightly more than 3,600 employees worldwide as of Dec. 31. 

The company recently said that unexpected financial pressures brought on by the COVID-19 crisis forced it to lay off "a small percentage" of its total workforce. The job cuts took effect May 19. 

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott

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