RBC Wealth Management, a financial advising and planning group, is the latest company to announce plans to move its Baltimore offices out of the central business district — a decision that comes as some in the city want to reimagine what is considered the “downtown” area.
The company announced Wednesday that it is moving to Wills Wharf — a 12-story, 330,000 square-foot building in Harbor Point, according to a press release from Beatty Development Group. RBC will take up about 5,900 square feet on the building’s second floor and is planning to relocate in October.
Other tenants in the building, whose landlord is Armada Hoffler Properties, include insurance company Transamerica and advisory firm Ernst & Young.
RBC is the latest business to move out of the central business district for Harbor Point, which is on the site of a former chromium plant between Harbor East and Fells Point. T. Rowe Price and Bank of America have announced in recent months that they would be moving out of their offices in the central business district.
The decline in workers in the central business district prompted an announcement from Gov. Larry Hogan in April to relocate about 3,300 state employees to the district. Hogan called the move “a big boost for the revitalization and transformation of downtown Baltimore.”
The moves also come amid a debate about the role of the traditional downtown in the city’s long-term evolution.
Mike Crowell, RBC’s Baltimore complex director, said other companies’ decisions to move out of the central business district did not drive RBC’s decision. The lease was coming up in its current building, and Crowell said RBC was looking for a “fresh new start.”
Crowell added the company intended to keep its offices in Baltimore.
“Being in Baltimore, being closer on the water is kind of a special thing,” Crowell said.
Donald C. Fry, the president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said in a statement that the organization “is pleased that RBC Wealth Management will remain a valuable member of the Baltimore business community with this relocation.”
Terri Harrington, the senior vice president of MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Service, also said she is glad RBC is staying in the Baltimore area.
Harrington added that MacKenzie sees Harbor East and Harbor Point as part of downtown Baltimore.
“We really have to look at Harbor East and Harbor Point as a location that’s going to help rise up the central business district and really be presented out there as one big downtown that is thriving,” Harrington said.
Shelonda Stokes, the president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, said her organization also considers Harbor East and Harbor Point part of the downtown area.
In the organization’s 2020 State of Downtown Report, the group found that employment decreased and office vacancies rose in the downtown area in 2020. The group included Harbor East and Harbor Point as part of the downtown area in the report.
Stokes said moves such as RBC’s are a sign of the “health and growth of downtown.”
“If you’re an organization and you’re looking to figure out how you reinvigorate or do some things, you may want to move closer to the water,” Stokes said. “I don’t think that that part is necessarily a surprise.”
Stokes added the focus has now shifted on how to reimagine the central business district.
“You don’t want to have one area of growth and another area that’s not (growing),” Stokes said. “It’s how do we now all collectively grow all of downtown?”