Chase will have new retail branch in I River Mark Centre

With its long-term lease up later this year, Chase Bank is downsizing its footprint in the former Chase South Tower downtown, which was recently rebranded I River Mark Centre.

But Chase will continue to lease one floor of the high-rise for its business banking department, says the building’s owner Mike Wampold, who is in the process of renovating the building into a mixed-use tower.

Chase will also keep a retail presence in the building in a new ground-floor branch that Wampold will build for the bank on the plaza.

The changes come as the 11 upper  floors previously occupied by another former, long-term tenant—Albemarle—are being demolished in preparation for their conversion into high-end residential units. Albemarle, which relocated its corporate headquarters to North Carolina several years ago, kept a presence in the building until late last year.

Wampold also has begun renovating five of the lower floors that will remain as office space. So far, he’s in talks with several potential tenants, though no deals have been finalized.

While the pandemic has disrupted the office market in the short term and potentially changed it forever by making employers realize their employees can successfully and efficiently work from home, Wampold believes there will still be demand for class A office space in downtown buildings.

“It’s true there’s not a whole lot of people looking for office space right now,” he says. “But there’s no new space coming online, nobody building new offices. There hasn’t been anything new in a few years. … I think downtown will always be the central business district. Big law firms will want to be there. Banks will want to be there.”

Wampold’s adjacent II River Mark Centre, formerly the Chase North Tower, is more than 70% occupied, and potential tenants continue to show interest in the space, he says.  

Wampold is investing some $75 million in renovating the building, not including the undisclosed price he paid for the building in 2018. He has so far been denied federal historic building tax credits, which would help offset 20% of the renovation cost, though he did secure state building credits, also worth 20%.

He expects to complete construction in 2022.