M &T Bank will move its Mid-Atlantic headquarters and about 500 employees to One Light Street, serving as the anchor tenant of the 28-story tower under construction in downtown Baltimore.
The relocation reaffirms the Buffalo-based bank's commitment to Baltimore, said Augie Chiasera, M&T's regional president of the Baltimore and Chesapeake regions.
"Whenever you do something physical like a building it reaffirms in people's minds what we've believed all along, that Baltimore is a great place to live, work and invest," Chiasera said. "If we want to talk about that in the community, we need to lead with our actions and I can't think of a better lead than a project like this."
The bank expects to relocate from its current regional headquarters at 25 S. Charles St. and a smaller office at 111 S. Calvert St. to the new building by the end of 2018. M&T also will relocate its full-service branch at 25 S. Charles St. to the ground floor of One Light.
M&T will occupy a total of 155,000 square feet across six floors of the new glass tower, accounting for about 60 percent of the building's office space. Its logo will go atop the building.
The building, being developed by Madison Marquette, will include a total of nine floors of Class A office space, 5,000 square feet of retail space, a 646-space parking garage and 280 luxury apartments with a club and pool on its upper floors.
M&T's long-rumored commitment to the building played an important role in moving the project forward at a site that has been vacant for years.
"The development at 1 Light Street is an important project, which is buoyed by M&T Bank making the decision to locate its headquarters there," said William H. Cole, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corp., in a statement.
Mayor Catherine E. Pugh described the deal as a vote of confidence for downtown Baltimore and said the project would "transform a vacant downtown site into a modern tower."
One Light Street was once the site of the Southern Hotel, which was demolished in 2000 for an office and hotel project that was never built. Over the years, other proposals have come and gone. The leveled site most recently served as a parking lot.
"Downtown Baltimore has been waiting on this project to happen for 30 years," said Kirby Fowler, President of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.
M&T Bank began its search for office alternatives in 2014, as the end of its lease on Charles Street neared.
The company had been at that location since it acquired Allfirst Financial in 2003.
One Light Street's more modern look, as well as its downtown location, will benefit M&T as it looks to recruit millennial workers, Chiasera said. The new space will offer more open floors and ample meeting rooms to encourage more collaboration among employees.
The bank has signed a 15-year lease with two five-year renewal options.
M&T will keep its offices at Montgomery Park, where another 500 employees work.
The developer could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
In a statement, Amer Hammour, chairman of Madison Marquette, said: "We are delighted that One Light Street will become the first major ground up mixed use tower with a full array of residential, office, retail and parking amenities to serve this core Baltimore neighborhood in decades."