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Jax Daily Record Friday, May 20, 201112:00 PM EST

Wells Fargo to move into former Modis Building


by Karen Brune Mathis

Managing Editor

Wells Fargo has approved the lease to move into the former Modis Building Downtown and intends to complete the move by the end of the year and put its name on top of the 37-story tower, according to Wells Fargo spokeswoman Kathy Harrison.

Harrison said this morning that the lease is expected to be signed Tuesday or Wednesday for the building, which is known as Independent Square. The operations will move from the One Enterprise Center building at 225 W. Water St.

“It is an absolute business decision,” said Harrison. “It is a decision that will be good for our shareholders for a number of reasons. One is cost. The other is the opportunity for more prominent exposure. It is very visible with its prominence in Jacksonville,” she said.

Harrison said Wells Fargo will lease six and a half floors and will open a Wells Fargo branch on the ground-level floor. It will start moving in November, she said.

Harrison said Wells Fargo leases 155,000 square feet in 21-story One Enterprise Center. The company will lease 120,000 square feet in Independent Square.

She said about 375 employees will move. Wells Fargo has 400 employees in One Enterprise Center. She said the other 25 will move into their business units in other areas, a move previously planned.

She said the Wells Fargo name will go up on top of the building. The conversion of Wachovia offices around Northeast Florida to Wells Fargo will take place the weekend of June 11.

Wells Fargo merged with Wachovia Corp. two years ago and has been considering where to operate its Downtown administrative offices for months.

Independent Square is the name of the building at 1 Independent Drive that featured the Modis name on top. Modis is the name of a predecessor company to Adecco Group North America, a staffing company that moved from the building for Southside in the spring. Its name came off with the move.

Wachovia has occupied the One Enterprise Center Building Downtown from the building’s beginning, first as Florida National Bank and then as First Union before it merged into Wachovia.

A move would not greatly affect real estate occupancy rates Downtown because Wells Fargo will relocate from one Downtown building to another.

Independent Square Senior Leasing Associate Michael Loftin could not immediately be reached for comment this morning.

Interest in what happens with the signature Modis Building began when Zurich-based Adecco bought Jacksonville-based MPS Group Inc. early last year. Modis is a subsidiary of MPS Group and occupied 115,000 square feet of space among about five floors in the Modis Building.

In July, when Adecco announced it would move to Southside, Loftin said a move had been anticipated.

“We’re working with users to back fill the space,” Loftin said at the time. “The opportunity for the signage for this building is very attractive to a lot of companies.”

Loftin said that “knowing we were going to get it back, we’ve been working on a lot of things for a while.”

He said in July that Adecco used five full floors, part of another and various other space. “We have been working forward with a couple of groups to try to progress things along,” he said.

He also said a tenant of 120,000 to 150,000 square feet could be an anchor tenant and that signage is a negotiated deal.

Duval County Property Appraiser records show that One Enterprise Center at 225 Water St. is a 21-story, 365,800-square-foot building constructed in 1986. Its 2010 taxable value is $33.3 million.

Records show Independent Square at 1 Independent Drive W. as a 37-floor, 992,501-square-foot structure built in 1975 with a 2010 taxable value of $50 million.

Adecco Group North America completed its move in March from Downtown to the Southside, taking about 300 employees and the corporate name off the Northbank tower.

Adecco Group North America bought temporary staffing company MPS Group, including its flagship Modis subsidiary, in January 2010. Adecco Group said publicly in July that it would leave the Modis Building the following spring.

The Modis name was removed from the top of the 37-floor signature building that the company has anchored for 13 years. Its lease expired March 31.

“We are excited about the prospect of a good quality name going on the building, so that is what we are working toward,” Loftin said in March. He said the Adecco space became available April 1.

“We are working very hard to get that space backfilled as soon as possible and we are confident we will be able to,” said Loftin. “It’s on the forefront of our priority list.”

Adecco Group moved into 78,292 square feet in a Deerwood South building at Butler and Southside boulevards. The new Southside location, Building 200 at 10151 Deerwood Park Blvd., displays the Adecco Group name.

The former Modis building is the tallest Northbank building that offers the opportunity for tower-top signage. While the Bank of America Tower is taller, it does not have signage at the top.

Loftin said Adecco Group occupied 16-17 percent of the former Modis Building’s 651,000 square feet of leasable space. The building was 93 percent occupied and the Adecco departure lowered that to about 76 percent.

He said that in addition to Adecco’s 114,000 square feet, the building has another 40,000 square feet available for lease in various sizes, including one entire floor.

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