US bank Wells Fargo is exiting an office and data center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Wells Fargo is exiting its lease at the Philadelphia Plaza building at 101 N. Independence Mall. The bank will be consolidating its real estate footprint and relocating staff to its other offices in the city at Two Logan Square and Commerce Square.

Philadelphia Plaza building - Miller Real Estate.jpeg
– Miller Real Estate

“We have more real estate than we need to support our current employee count in Philadelphia given our hybrid work schedule and the flexibility that we offer now after Covid,” Wells Fargo spokesperson Elise Corbett told the Inquirer.

“We’ve been in this building since 1973,” Corbett said. “This [move] gives us a chance to have fresh space. There are fitness centers on-site. New state-of-the-art training and meeting facilities. Different views of the Parkway, when we’re used to looking over Independence Mall.”

In a message to employees, Wells Fargo said that the move to the other side of Center City will be phased, beginning in the third quarter of this year.

The Plaza building is owned by Miller Real Estate Fund II, LP which was established in 2014 by Miller Real Estate, an affiliate of investment firm Miller. Miller acquired the 11-story building in 2015.

Miller describes the building, also known as 401 Market St., as a 520,000 sq ft multi-tenant office building. According to the Inquirer, Wells Fargo occupied nine floors of the building; the only other tenant is the American Bible Society, which occupies two floors spanning a total of 130,000 sq ft.

The real estate firm said the building provides an opportunity for new tenants, with 'unique infrastructure' related to its use as an operations and data center by Wells Fargo. It’s unclear how much of the leased space is for data center use.

The building was opened in 1973 as Philadelphia National Bank’s operations headquarters. The bank was taken over by First Union the in 1980s – then later merged with Wachovia and eventually renamed CoreStates Financial Corporation – and then Wells Fargo in 2008.

“It has largely been unavailable to the broader tenant market since 1973, when it was built,” said Matthew Ryan, investment professional with Miller Investment Management LP. “We think it has some of the best light and air and exposure of any building in Philadelphia.”

In 2021 Wells Fargo announced a new digital infrastructure strategy that would see the bank adopt Microsoft Azure as its primary provider and Google Cloud for additional ‘business-critical public cloud services’ alongside third-party data centers.

The bank's shift to the cloud had been a long time coming (the company talked about it at a DCD event way back in 2015), as it has sought to reduce a huge portfolio of data centers. By 2015, it said it had closed some 100 small data centers as part of a consolidation initiative, which was still ongoing leading into the pandemic.

In 2019, one of the company's data centers went down due to a fire suppression failure. The outage meant that customers were left unable to access ATMs, or their online and mobile banking accounts for more than a day.