Duke Energy announces plans for new uptown tower

Duke Energy files plans for 35 story tower

Duke Energy and a Charlotte developer have filed preliminary plans with the city of Charlotte for a new office tower on a piece of land it bought last month for $27.5 million.
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Duke Energy and a Charlotte developer have filed preliminary plans with the city of Charlotte for a new office tower on a piece of land it bought last month for $27.5 million.

Duke Energy said Friday it will build a 39-story office tower across from its Charlotte headquarters building as it seeks to consolidate its office space in uptown.

The building will sit on what is currently a parking lot in the 500 block of South Tryon Street in between the Harvey B. Gantt Center and St. Peter Catholic Church. The project is expected to be completed in 2022, the utility said.

Duke said it will continue to be headquartered in the 48-story Duke Energy Center. But the company said it will exit three other office buildings in an effort to shrink its real estate footprint from 2 million square feet currently to 1.5 million.

Duke said it will sell two of those buildings, 526 S. Church St. and 401 S. College St. The Church Street property served as Duke’s previous headquarters building and sits one block over from it. The College Street property is next to the Charlotte Convention Center.

The third building is at 400 S. Tryon St., next to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Duke said it plans to exit its lease at that property.

“By consolidating office space into a new building, the company will avoid spending millions of dollars annually to manage and maintain several inefficient and aging facilities that are more than 40 years old,” Duke said in a news release.

The tower is the latest project announced along the intersection of South Tryon and Stonewall streets, which has seen a flurry of construction in recent years.

Construction is ongoing on a 33-story office building at the old Charlotte Observer site. Tenants will include Bank of America. Construction also continues on a 26-story building at the former site of a Goodyear auto shop. Ally Financial has leased the majority of that tower.

Also in the area, a newly built Whole Foods opened beneath a tower of high-rise apartments this year.

Duke said its new building will be roughly 1 million square feet, including about 25,000 square feet of retail space, and have seven levels of above-ground parking. The building will house about 3,600 employees, Duke said.

Charlotte-based developer Childress Klein, which developed Duke Energy Center, will develop the new building. Childress also developed Museum Tower, an apartment complex on top of the Mint Museum. The apartments, next to Duke Energy Center, opened this year.

Costs for Duke’s new building have not yet been disclosed. A Duke spokesman said such details are still being finalized.

In May, Duke paid about $27.5 million for about two acres of land at the South Tryon Street site, real estate records show.

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Duke said it plans to eventually seek a buyer for the new building and sign a long-term lease with that owner. The utility does not own Duke Energy Center. Instead, it leases space there from Wells Fargo, which inherited the building when it acquired Charlotte’s Wachovia during the financial crisis.

Duke also said it plans to keep the 100 employees it houses in NASCAR Plaza in that office tower for now. Duke’s lease runs out there in 2026.

All told, Duke said it has about 6,000 employees and contractors in uptown.

Duke Energy is the largest payer of property taxes in Mecklenburg County, according to the Mecklenburg County Office of the Tax Collector.

The company paid $26.2 million in 2018 on property valued at about $2.7 billion. Wells Fargo was No. 2 with about $12.1 million in taxes paid on $1.5 billion in property.

Staff writers Ely Portillo and Deon Roberts contributed. Cope: 704-358-5926; @cassielcope
Cassie Cope covers business in Charlotte, with a focus on Charlotte Douglas airport, Duke Energy, Atrium Health and Novant Health. She previously covered politics at The State in Columbia, S.C., and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.