Law firm jumps downtown towers

LeClairRyan is headquartered in the Riverfront Plaza East Tower. Photo by Evelyn Rupert.

LeClairRyan is ending its lease at Riverfront Plaza. Photo by Evelyn Rupert.

One of Richmond’s biggest law firms is leaving the riverfront for taller downtown heights.

LeClairRyan is relocating its downtown offices at Riverfront Plaza to the SunTrust Center at 919 E. Main St.

The firm has signed a 10.5-year lease for 50,000 square feet on the top three floors of the 24-story building. It plans to move into the new space in August 2015 after the space is renovated.

The move marks a reduction from LeClairRyan’s current 80,000 square feet in Riverfront Plaza’s East Tower at 951 E. Byrd St.

LeClairRyan CEO David Freinberg said the move is not related to a reduction in attorneys, and the firm’s headcount has remained consistent over recent years. He said the change is a shift toward more efficient use of space.

“There is no need to have (80,000) square feet when you can work just as efficiently in less,” he said. “We’re at a time in our industry when very large offices just don’t make sense these days, but we can build our smaller offices in a very efficient manner.”

Around 170 staff members will occupy the space, more than 60 of which are attorneys. LeClairRyan is the sixth-largest law firm in the Richmond market, according to a recent BizSense list.

The SunTrust Center tower at 919 E. Main St. (Photo by David Larter)

LeClairRyan is moving into the SunTrust Center tower at 919 E. Main St. Photo by David Larter.

“We’ll still have offices for our attorneys, but the interior corridors will have glass walls to provide a lot of natural light, which will just make the space that much brighter, not just for those in the offices, but for those that are in the interior spaces, as well,” Freinberg said.

The firm will continue leasing around 2,000 square feet at its Innsbrook location at 4201 Dominion Blvd. It previously had additional downtown space at the Federal Reserve Building, but left that property about three years ago, Freinberg said.

As its lease was coming due at Riverfront Plaza, LeClairRyan considered a number of potential leasing options in the Richmond area, Freinberg said. It was drawn to the SunTrust Center by the opportunity to start a redesign from scratch.

“We talked about forward thinking in terms of design that could allow for cohesive collaboration and teamwork,” Freinberg said. “We’re working very closely with our architectural firm to design what we think is going to be a fantastic space, not only for the firm but for our clients and the community.”

The Washington, D.C.-based architectural firm OPX is working on the interior design of LeClairRyan’s floors in the SunTrust Center.

SunTrust Center has a total of 458,000 square feet. It is owned and managed by Florida-based Parmenter Realty Partners. After LeClairRyan moves in, it will have about 10,000 square feet of vacant space left.

Space in the building is currently going for about $22 per square foot per year, said Jamie Galanti, a Commonwealth Commercial broker who represented Parmenter in the deal. Russell Wyatt also worked the deal for Commonwealth Commercial.

Andrew Ferguson, a broker with Colliers International, represented LeClairRyan in the lease negotiations.

Riverfront Plaza’s twin 20-story towers have a combined 970,000 square feet. They had 176,000 vacant square feet combined as of the end of September, according to a recent CBRE report. That figure does not include the pending 80,000-square-foot vacancy of the LeClairRyan.

CBRE brokers Trib Sutton and David Wilkins handle leasing for Riverfront Plaza.

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Hunter MacMillan

Interesting move. My impression is that LeClairRyan, Hunton and Williams, McGuireWoods, Troutman Sanders, and Williams Mullin are the big law firms that are based here. LeClair has been a great success story and had moved to the Riverfront towers. Now they are moving to the Suntrust building, which is also class A office space, but in my opinion not quite as prestigious as Riverfront. The other big firms are either in buildings on the river, (Hunton Williams and Troutman Sanders) or in or moving to buildings where they are the main occupant (Williams Mullen and McGuire). Seems to me like… Read more »