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Anchor tenant doesn’t want to fly its flag

Michael Schwartz March 20, 2013 2
Dominion, left,  SunTrust, Bank of America, McGuireWoods and Williams Mullen are among the names that punctuate the Richmond skyline.

Dominion, left, SunTrust, Bank of America, McGuireWoods and Williams Mullen are among the names that punctuate the skyline of downtown Richmond, at least until a planned move by McGuireWoods.

The name of a big Richmond law firm will not sit atop downtown’s newest office tower.

McGuireWoods does not want its name at the peak of the planned 15- to 20-story, $110 million Gateway Plaza building, which is expected to open in 2015. The 180-year-old Richmond law firm will be the anchor tenant for the 275,000-square-foot building.

Gateway Plaza rendering

A rendering of the planned Gateway Plaza building. (Courtesy of Crews Communications)

The decision was made by McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Cullen has said “there are better ways to strengthen the firm’s brand than putting it on the top of a building,” according to the source.

McGuireWoods is to occupy all but a few floors of the building, which will sit on what is now a parking lot owned by Dominion Resources at Eighth and Cary streets.

Cullen, who has been chairman of the firm for seven years, referred questions on the matter to Clayco, the Chicago-based developer of the property.

The law firm’s decision gives Clayco an extra asset to offer as it courts tenants for the remaining floors of the building, which could grow to 20 stories if tenants require extra space.

Bob Clark, Clayco’s chief executive, said initial renderings of building had the McGuireWoods name in big letters.

“They kind of recoiled a bit,” he said. “Richard and his team thought it might be a bit too much to have their name on the top of the building.”

McGuireWoods does have its name at the top of its current downtown home, One James Center. The firm has occupied the building since it was built in 1985, although its name has only adorned the property for about 10 years.

It occupies 244,000 square feet in One James Center, more than half the building, which is owned by New York-based JEMB Realty.

Clayco is fielding interest from potential tenants for the property, Clark said, including companies in the Richmond suburbs that are considering a move downtown.

A company name in big bright letters just might help seal the deal.

“There are certain tenants that’s very important to,” Clark said. “Consumer products companies and banks, they get more pop out of it.”

Should Clayco find a tenant that wants the big splash of a tower-top name, the developer has agreed to first clear it with McGuireWoods.

“I feel like it would have to be a great tenant with a strong brand,” Clark said, adding that it likely wouldn’t be a competing law firm.

Clark would not name any of the interested potential tenants. BizSense reported in January that the asking price on the rent at Gateway Plaza is $28.50 per square foot per year. Colliers International is handling the leasing on the building.

The developer is aiming to close on the purchase of the parcel from Dominion in May and to secure all the clearance it will need from the city by that time.

For any companies that are curious: The cost of getting your name on the building would be included in a potential lease deal, Clark said.

“The kind of tenants we’re talking to, we’d be glad to give them the signage,” he said.

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2 Comments »

  1. Sean CW Korsgaard April 29, 2013 at 9:17 am - Reply

    I hope this means they have some huge tenant lined up – I’d love for them to make the building taller like they said if the demand is there.

    • billclay April 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm - Reply

      Yes, I agree. Would love to see this thing grow taller than 20 stories. The Richmond skyline needs a boost. This would be a great opportunity for a large tenant to step up and be able to have signage on top.

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