State organizations hopping downtown offices

One of three James Center buildings downtown will soon lose its largest tenant. Photo by Evelyn Rupert.

The James Center is gaining a new government tenant. Photo by Evelyn Rupert.

A state-funded economic development group is swapping downtown towers.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, along with the Virginia Tourism Corp. is ditching its space in Riverfront Plaza in favor of 55,000 square feet in One James Center at 1051 E. Cary St.

The move has been in the works for over a year, according to VEDP’s COO Dan Gundersen. The authority’s lease on 50,900 square feet at Riverfront Plaza expires at the end of this year.

“Both the James Center and Riverfront are two exceptional facilities; both were very eager to work with us,” he said. “However, in the end, the James Center just provided a little more space at less cost, and a better layout for us.”

The ultimate deciding factor for the VEDP, Gundersen said, was cost.

“We’re operating in a very competitive environment,” he said. “We’ve looked at every possible angle to keep our cost down … On a cost-per-square-foot basis, our office lease will cost us no more in the next 11 years than it did in the past 11 years.”

Tom Vozenilek of CBRE | Richmond represented VEDP in its search. JLL handles leasing of One James Center, which is owned by New York-based JEMB Realty.

VEDP is leaving it space of about 50,000 square feet in Riverfront Plaza.

VEDP is leaving it space of about 50,000 square feet in Riverfront Plaza.

The VEDP’s mission is to attract businesses to set up shop in the commonwealth, help established business grow and promote the state to the rest of the world. It was formed in 1995 and has been in Riverfront Plaza since then.

As a state authority, the VEDP gets its funding from the commonwealth but has a private sector board that determines the allocation of those funds. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed VEDP’s new lease in One James Center last week.

Virginia Tourism Corp. is a separate state-funded entity, but it shares space and some services, such as human resources, with VEDP.

Within Riverfront Plaza, the VEDP and VCT take up space in the 18th and 19th floors. It will occupy the eighth and ninth floors of One James Center.

Commonwealth Architects is working to prepare the James Center space for the VEDP, which should be ready by March of next year. Work is expected to begin in December.

About 150 employees will move from Riverfront to James Center with the transition.

VEDP’s arrival will help fill at least part of a gaping hole left in One James Center when law giant McGuireWoods vacated this year for the newly constructed Gateway Plaza. The firm left 257,000 square feet of the 489,000-square-foot building vacant.

According to its website, One James Center has around 260,000 square feet of vacant space. That number does not include VEDP’s latest lease, nor does it include Dixon Hughes Goodman’s move to the tower, taking up 21,000 square feet on the 10th floor.

CBRE | Richmond handles leasing for the 949,000-square-foot Riverfront Plaza. Its two towers are owned by real estate firm Hines.

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Michael Dodson

No room in the state owned office building, aka Main Street Centre, where I would assume they could have gotten a better rate still? I know they are NOT required to use that space but the purpose of buying the center and building that giant parking deck next to it was to consolidate state agencies.