Four years after financial services company Dimensional Fund Advisors announced it was expanding to Charlotte, officials celebrated the opening of the firm’s East Coast headquarters in South End Wednesday night.
Mayor Vi Lyles, council member Lawana Mayfield, Dimensional co-CEO Gerard O’Reilly, and other leaders cut a ribbon in front of the building’s tall glass windows. The nine-story, 285,000-square-foot building at Camden Road and Tryon Street is the first of several major office buildings underway in South End to be completed.
The area, which was mostly apartments and retail until recently, is becoming a burgeoning office market, with just under 600,000 square feet of office space under development in South End and midtown, according to a report from real estate services firm JLL.
“The area kind of has it all in one spot,” O’Reilly said. “That’s really good for employees because they have a good quality of life.”
Nearby, Charlotte fintech company LendingTree last month announced that it’s moving its headquarters from Ballantyne to one of two 11-story towers Spectrum is building on South Tryon Street at Carson Boulevard.
Professional services firm EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young) said in early 2018 it will bring hundreds of employees to the RailYard development, a pair of buildings underway that will have almost 300,000 square feet of office space, along with ground floor shops and restaurants.
The influx of corporate office buildings in South End at the expense of funky local establishments has caused hand-wringing among residents. The spot where Dimensional’s building sits was once home to Common Market, several other salons and shops, and used to be the site of the neighborhood’s weekly food truck rally.
Cousins Properties developed Dimensional’s 282,000-square-foot building, which has about 15,000 square feet of retail space on its ground floor. Cousins has not yet said which retail or restaurant tenants will be in the building.
Dimensional Fund Advisors, based in Austin, Texas, announced plans in July 2015 to add 316 jobs in Charlotte. The firm was lured by about $18 million worth of state and local incentives, which it will receive over 12 years if it meets its job-creation goals.
At the time, Dimensional said its new Charlotte jobs, which it said it will create by the end of 2020, will pay an average annual wage of $147,025. Those jobs include investment managers, a sales team and IT positions.
The firm currently employs around 250 in Charlotte, O’Reilly said in an interview with the Observer Wednesday. He said they’ve been operating out of a temporary location in uptown for the past few years. Employees moved into the new building in April.
Dimensional Fund Advisors, founded in 1981, manages nearly $576 billion global assets. The company employs more than 1,300 people and has 12 offices in nine countries.