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Duke Energy To Move HQ To New Tower, Shrink Charlotte Office Space

Duke new hq rendering.png
Duke Energy
An architect's rendering of the new Duke Energy Plaza, under construction on South Tryon Street. It will become Duke's new headquarters when it opens at the end of 2022.

Duke Energy plans to move its headquarters to a new building it's constructing across the street from its current home in uptown Charlotte. The company says it's adopting a new workplace model that dramatically reduces its need for office space.

The 40-story tower under construction on South Tryon Street will be known as Duke Energy Plaza. When the building opens in 2023, it will house about 4,400 of Duke's current 6,000 uptown Charlotte employees and contractors.

Duke plans to cut its Charlotte office space by about 60%, saving $90 million over five years. Spokesperson Neil Nissan said the company is adopting a new flexible workplace model built on lessons learned during the pandemic.

The company doesn't plan on layoffs, but not everyone will have permanent desks.

"Some employees will be working on site. Some will be working remotely full-time. But the majority of our office employees will have a hybrid schedule, where they're going to be splitting time between the office and working remotely," Nissan said. "And because of that, we're able to really reduce the amount of space that's required for our employees."

Nissan says Duke will quit its lease early this year on 21 floors at its current headquarters, the Duke Energy Center, which is owned by Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo said it plans to take over the space. The former Wachovia bank developed Duke's current headquarters but didn't need all the space after it was acquired by Wells Fargo. The building, a key feature in Charlotte's skyline, was renamed the Duke Energy Center after Duke moved there in 2009.

Wells Fargo did not say whether it plans to change the building's name.

"We have appreciated Duke Energy as a tenant and are also thrilled to regain space in this iconic Charlotte building,” said Richard Henderson, head of Corporate Properties at Wells Fargo. “The Duke Energy Center is one of the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient buildings in the world — and a gem in our property portfolio. We are pleased to soon utilize the space for our employees.”

Duke also plans to move out of leased space at 400 South Tryon St. uptown and at Piedmont Town Center in South Park, the former Piedmont Natural Gas headquarters. And it plans to sell two office buildings uptown, at 526 Church St. and 401 College St.

All the shuffling means some employees will be in temporary space after leases end and before the new tower is ready

And what about CEO Lynn Good and her senior management team?

"You know, it's still TBD," said Nissan. "We're still working out the details about where we're going to relocate not only our executives but all of our employees."

"But I think the important thing is the fact that we have this new workplace model, which really offers employees flexibility and convenience," he said.

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David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.