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Exclusive: Barclays buys Wilmington HQ for $83M

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Barclays Bank recently bought its U.S. headquarters building, the Christina Crescent, for $83 million and plan to invest in renovations. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON – The multinational Barclays Bank recently made its long-term commitment to the city via the acquisition of its longtime U.S. operations headquarters for $83 million, one of the largest deals for a single building in Delaware in many years.

Barclays, which employed just under 1,100 people in the state as of June, has leased space in the Christina Crescent Building on the Riverfront since arriving in Delaware in 2004. The $83 million deal, closed Oct. 1, will see the bank take ownership of the 279,000-square-foot Class A trophy building, according to county land records. Sitting at the focal gateway to the Riverfront area, the building won numerous awards for its architectural design that features an open-air leg on its eastern side.

Barclays recently committed to growing its workforce at the building, announcing in June that it is building a call center there to staff 300 people with the potential for more growth. Delaware backed that project with $2.5 million in taxpayer-backed grants.

“Wilmington has been the home of Barclays U.S. Consumer Bank for more than 20 years. The purchase of our headquarters building reinforces Barclays’ commitment to the city of Wilmington and the state of Delaware and serves as a testament to our dedication to both our partners and the region,” the company said in a statement Tuesday. “In addition, we are refurbishing and transforming the building to create a new, modern workplace that is designed for the workforce of tomorrow with upgraded facilities and a variety of amenities for our colleagues to enjoy.  We look forward to many years of continued success in Wilmington.”

Pettinaro sold the Christina Crescent building at the Riverfront to Barclays Bank, the tenant it built the offices for back in 2003. | PHOTO COURTESY OF PETTINARO

The builder and former owner of the Christina Crescent, real estate development firm Pettinaro, listed the iconic 129 S. West St. building for sale last fall. Greg Pettinaro, CEO of the namesake firm, told Delaware Business Times that the decision to sell was made to free up attention and cash flow for the firm’s Barley Mill redevelopment project and others in its pipeline.

“We wanted to take advantage of market conditions right now and we wanted to keep Barclays happy in their commitment to the Riverfront and to the Wilmington area by owning their own building,” he added Tuesday.

The unlisted sale, which required bidding and a non-disclosure agreement, was handled by the Wilmington office of Newmark. The brokerage had speculated that the high-profile building would “draw strong interest from a plethora of national and international buyers searching for a safe, quality investment.”

Pettinaro said that the building ultimately received five bids but that his firm returned to its longtime tenant to complete a sale. The acquisition by Barclays solidifies its hold in the Riverfront, where it also leases space in the neighboring Juniper Building, also owned by Pettinaro.

The sale at $83 million is an eye-popping figure with few comparisons in the city in recent years. Buccini/Pollin Group acquired the DuPont Building for $31.2 million in 2017 while Amtrak acquired the Renaissance Centre for $41.2 million last year. Many other notable city office buildings, including the PNC Bank Center, Citizens Bank Center and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Delaware high-rise, have been sold between $16 million and $24 million in recent years.

The Christina Crescent sale may signal a transfer of interest and leading property values from Wilmington’s Central Business District to the burgeoning Riverfront, which is primed for further investment with redevelopment of the eastside getting underway.

Pettinaro said he believed the building’s attractive design, location at the gateway to the Riverfront, and Barclays’ long-term lease – it had about 12 years remaining, according to Pettinaro – helped increase its sale value. The value of the surrounding Riverfront community, bolstered in large part by Pettinaro’s extensive development there over more than two decades, also surely helped.

“The Riverfront has been picking up more and more in the last 13 years and it’s been great to watch,” he said.

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