FIS Worldpay will permanently close its 81,380-square-foot building in Durango and about 250 employees in will transition to telecommuting.
“As part of an ongoing facilities review and in support of its Workforce of the Future strategy, FIS has decided to close several of its locations, including its Durango site, and transition colleagues at those locations to a full-time work-from-home strategy,” said Adam Kiefaber, FIS Worldpay’s head of corporate and executive public relations, in an email to The Durango Herald.
Durango’s FIS Worldpay office has 250 employees, and they have been transitioned to a work-from-home status, he said.
FIS Worldpay owns the building, located near the Durango Mall, and while no date for the closure has been set, FIS is reviewing future plans for the structure, Kiefaber said.
The closure will be permanent, not a temporary measure to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
La Plata County Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Michael French said he has been in discussions with FIS Worldpay executives about the best use for the building going forward.
“You can’t just put an 80,000-plus-square-foot building on the market. It’s not that simple. So, we’ve already started conversations with FIS about the best community use,” French said.
John Wells, owner/broker of The Wells Group, said the building is by far the largest office space in Durango, with only the Southern Ute Indian Tribe facilities in Ignacio approaching its size in La Plata County.
After excluding the space for the building’s lobby, common spaces and atrium, Wells estimated the building has about 60,000 square feet of office space, which is far larger than any other private business in town would need.
Most likely the building will be repurposed. One option could be converting it to mixed-use with commercial, office and residential sections. Another option would be to convert it into a residential structure as apartments, Wells said.
Final resolution of a building as large as FIS Worldpay’s could take several years, Wells said, but he anticipated at some point FIS will dispose of the building in some way.
“I don’t think they’re going to be a real estate investor that hires somebody to manage the building and lease it up. That’s not their business model,” Wells said.
In May 2014, Mercury Payment Systems opened the building, in which it had invested $40 million to build the structure and for the land. The building opened just as Mercury was acquired for the first time by a bigger payment processing company, Vantiv, which paid $1.65 billion for Mercury.
Since the Vantiv acquisition, the old Mercury operation changed hands two more times.
Vantiv purchased British-based Worldpay in July 2017 for $10.4 billion and kept the Worldpay name. In July 2019, Fidelity National Information Services, known more commonly as FIS, purchased Worldpay for $43 billion.
The Durango building, which has a LEED silver designation for environmental building practices, has housed as many as 450 Mercury employees. The building includes a small medical clinic, a fitness center with locker rooms and a cafe.
During development, Mercury donated 32 acres of river frontage to the city of Durango to set aside as open space. The project overcame initial opposition from its neighbor, the Durango Mall.
Wells said the largest of Durango employers with office space needs typically require no more than about 4,000 square feet. So filling the old Mercury building will almost inevitably require multiple tenants as well as repurposing.
Even before FIS Worldpay’s decision to close its building, Durango’s office space market was seeing the highest vacancy rate in decades. The COVID-19 pandemic had decreased demand for office space as other companies, like FIS Worldpay have begun moving to increased telecommuting.
The La Plata County Assessor’s Office lists the building’s value at $14.1 million and the land as worth $2.42 million.
French said FIS Worldpay executives are eager to create an asset that is valuable to Durango, and they have been cooperative in exploring future uses for the building.
Additionally, he said, FIS Worldpay is committed to keeping a presence in Durango.
“They continue to want to be a good participant in our economy,” French said. “They continue to want to be a good neighbor, a good corporate citizen. ... I don’t feel like in any way, shape or form, they’re turning their backs on the area. I’ve had an open dialogue with them about the potential opportunities we will have with the building.”