Wells Fargo & Co. will relocate one of its primary downtown Charleston banking offices from a prominent building near the historic City Market that the lender and its predecessors have occupied for nearly three decades.
The financial services giant plans to vacate the space it leases on three floors at 177 Meeting St. and move about 60 employees out of the heart of the city’s bustling tourist district to the west side of the peninsula next year.
The new home for the commercial banking and wealth management businesses will be The Jasper, a high-end development taking shape near Colonial Lake on Broad Street.
The bank said it has agreed to lease about 30,000 square feet of office space. It expects to make the move in late 2020.
“Until then, we will continue to serve our clients at 177 Meeting St.,” Wells Fargo said in a written statement. “Our future location at The Jasper, which is less than a mile away from our Meeting Street location, will allow us to maintain our strong presence in the market and continue to serve both our clients and the Charleston community.”
The bank is the first major commercial tenant to commit to The Jasper, which is going up on the site of the former 14-story Sergeant Jasper apartment building. Work began in mid-2018 on the project, which was sidelined by five years of zoning squabbles.
Wells Fargo is taking less than half of the total 75,000 square feet of office space planned at the development, which will incorporate 219 upscale residential units and retail shops.
The Beach Co., which is building the project, did not respond to a request for comment this week.
Wells Fargo is the largest bank operating in the region and the state based on deposits. Its commercial banking and wealth management offices at Meeting and Market streets tell the story of how the San Francisco-based lender made its way to Charleston.
The building at 177 Meeting was completed in 1991 for about $12 million and opened as First Union Center, a nod to a onetime Charlotte bank that was its first anchor tenant. A decade later, First Union became Wachovia, which, in turn, was bought by Wells Fargo in 2008 after nearly collapsing in the last financial crisis.
The building owner, which is affiliated with locally based Jupiter Holdings, is planning a complete overhaul of once the bank moves out, said Charlie Carmody of the commercial real estate firm and leasing agent CBRE Inc.
Wells Fargo occupies nearly 34,000 square feet at 177 Meeting, or slightly more than half of the rentable space. It closed its retail branch on the ground floor earlier this year.
“It’s at the corner of Main and Main and in the city of Charleston so … another bank or a retailer or restaurant or anything like that for the first floor would be ideal,” Carmody said.
He added that CBRE has yet to kick off a formal marketing campaign for the Wells Fargo space, though some prospective tenants already have expressed interest in it.