Closing of Westshore location comes amid changes in customer engagement
Investment firm T. Rowe Price Group is following through on its 2018 plan to shutter its Tampa call center operation, leaving more than 71,000 square feet of Class A office space in the Westshore business district.
But landlord Cousins Properties says that the vast majority of the space is already been leased by insurance broker BKS Partners, which will move into two floors of the 4211 W. Boy Scout Blvd. next June.
“They’ve been wonderful to have, really a gold standard customer for us, and we’re sorry to see them go,” says Kyle Burd, a Cousins’ senior vice president and managing director in Tampa.
“But having said that, we’ve already backfilled almost all of their space already.”
BKS, which will occupy roughly 60,000 square feet in Cousins’ 10-story Corporate Center II building, is moving in next summer because T. Rowe Price’s lease runs through January 2020.
The investment firm, which has more than $1 trillion in assets under management, announced in May 2018 that it wouldn’t renew its lease in Tampa, where 400 employees worked.
“This move is about the changing nature of how clients engage with us,” says T. Rowe Price spokesman Brian Lewbart. “Our interactions are primarily digital now rather than one the telephone.”
As part of that shift, the company is consolidating its Tampa operation with similar activities in Owings Mills, Md., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
Since the announcement, more than 200 T. Rowe Price employees have either found other jobs through company-sponsored job fairs and other resources, transferred to other corporate facilities out of state or been told they will remain with the company in Tampa and work remotely.
Another 169 employees were let go when the office closed at the end of last month, though each will receive severance packages and other outplacement support, Lewbart adds.
T. Rowe Price had operated in Tampa since 1994, and been a Cousins’ tenant since August 2002.
But in a testament to how tight the Class A office supply is in the Tampa area — Cousins’ Corporate Center properties totaling 1.25 million square feet are 99% committed at present — Burd says he received seven unsolicited inquiries about the T. Rowe Price space in the 24 hours after the investment firm’s announcement.
“This strip of Westshore that we’re on, it’s really a new city where people want to be,” he says.