RBC Wealth Management, a financial advisor and planner, will move its city branch from downtown Baltimore to Harbor Point, the company said Wednesday.
The unit of Royal Bank of Canada becomes the latest in a series of firms to leave the central business district for the developing Harbor Point, a 27-acre waterfront campus located on the site of a former chromium plant between Harbor East and Fells Point.
The relocation to Wills Wharf — a 12-story, 330,000 square-foot mixed-use building with offices, a fish house and a hotel — will help the group expand, said Mike Crowell, RBC’s Baltimore complex director.
“Moving RBC Wealth Management’s Baltimore office to Wills Wharf provides us with more opportunity for growth, as well as a premier, centralized location to offer better access and an even greater level of client service to our growing client base,” Crowell said in a statement Wednesday.
RBC Wealth Management will lease just over 5,900 square feet in the new facility, and plans to move in as early as October, according to the news release from Beatty Development Group and Armada Hoffler Properties, which is heading the Harbor Point project.
Other tenants in the building, which is 50% leased, according to Beatty Development, include the advisory firm Ernst & Young and digital marketing firm Jellyfish.
“Wills Wharf is shaping up to be one of the premier office locations in the city, an ideal spot for companies with expansion plans,” said Michael Beatty, president of Beatty Development. “We’re pleased to see RBC Wealth Management continue their commitment to Baltimore and grow at Harbor Point.”
Harbor Point, much of it under construction now, already has become the location of choice for such companies as Exelon, Constellation Energy, Morgan Stanley and global investment firm T. Rowe Price Group. Once finished, Harbor Point will be composed of over three million square feet of office, retail, residential and lodging space, as well as 9.5 acres of open green space.
The exodus of several companies out of the downtown area comes as the city’s waterfront properties grow in popularity for both business and leisure, and as employers prepare to wrestle with the long-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the challenges of luring employees back to in-person work environments.
Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of The Greater Baltimore Committee, said the central business district, along with Harbor Point, are viable destinations for companies.
“Like many cities, Baltimore is fortunate to have a number of business hubs that are attractive to growing business operations, including Harbor Point and the central downtown area,” Fry said. “Taken as a whole these hubs make up a thriving economic ecosystem in the city.
“The central downtown business area provides an opportunity for business operations attracted by the transit options and other great amenities that the downtown offers.”
But the shift of premier businesses out of downtown Baltimore to Harbor Point and Harbor East has raised questions about the future of the city’s old commercial core. Some older buildings there have been converted to residences, but many office buildings remain.
It may hinge partly on the future of the Inner Harbor, the waterfront promenade that still draws visitors, and Harborplace, which is struggling with rising vacancies and what some perceive as mismanagement by distant owners.
Shelonda Stokes, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, said the downtown neighborhood will grow and change as new areas come online, representing a healthy marketplace for competition and innovation.
She previously said the central business district will build a new future with diverse, Black and female-led companies. She said Wednesday the partnership would look to identify opportunities to engage educational institutions, medical systems, technology companies and government workers that call the district home.
“Downtown Partnership is currently engaging with other partners and stakeholders to seize the opportunity to reimagine the Central Business District and leverage its assets of being one of the most architecturally beautiful, transit-connected yet affordable areas on the East Coast,” Stokes said.