Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Charlotte: An Example to Follow

If you’d ever like to see firsthand the role that the corporate community can play in the redevelopment of a city’s central business district, look no further than Charlotte. The Queen City is booming, thanks to two of its largest corporate citizens, Bank of America and Wachovia. Both companies have made substantial commitments to the city, with each company trying to build more impressive office buildings than the other. The winner, of course, is Uptown Charlotte.

Here’s a quick look at each company’s holdings in Uptown Charlotte:

Bank of America

The stunning, 60-story Bank of America Corporate Center stands proudly as the Charlotte skyline’s signature structure. Bank of America also anchors the 47-story Hearst Tower (the second-tallest building in Charlotte) as well as the 40-story Bank of America Plaza. Also included in the Bank of America Complex is the 19-story Omni Charlotte Hotel and two buildings currently under construction: A 32-story, 750,000 square foot office tower and a 150-room Ritz Carlton hotel. Last, but not least, Bank of America was responsible for developing Gateway Center, a mixed-use development consisting of housing and office space.

Wachovia Bank

Charlotte’s other banking giant also calls Uptown Charlotte its home, with four buildings in the city’s central business district: One Wachovia Center (42 stories), Two Wachovia Center (32 stories), Three Wachovia Center (32 stories) and Wachovia Main (12 stories). It has also begun construction on a mixed-use project that will include a 46-story, 1.3 million square foot office tower as well as Wake Forest University’s MBA Progam and $97 million worth of arts and cultural venues. The Ratcliffe on the Green – 10 floors, mixed use w/condos and retail.

Imagine if downtown St. Louis had more corporate citizens like Charlotte does. The departures of SBC/AT&T, Boatmen’s Bank and Mercantile Bank have left downtown with less of a headquarters presence than it once enjoyed, but there are a few corporations that remain committed to downtown – A.G. Edwards, Stifel Nicolaus and Hardee’s/CKE Restaurants, to name a few.

But what if Centene could have been persuaded to build its new headquarters downtown, instead of Clayton? What about Express Scripts or Rawlings? The impact would be amazing.

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