Financial Tech Company Upgrade Coming to Downtown Phoenix

The Phoenix office of JLL has completed a new, 38,000-square-foot lease that will relocate FinTech company Upgrade Inc. from San Francisco into two floors at Renaissance Center I in downtown Phoenix. The move is the latest example of a Silicon Valley company expanding its essential business functions in Phoenix instead of taking more space in the Bay Area.

Upgrade – a new consumer credit platform that combines marketplace lending with tools that help consumers understand and monitor their credit – is in the process of hiring 100 customer service, credit operations and collections professionals in Phoenix, and expects to add an additional 200 employees by the end of 2018.

“Downtown Phoenix offered everything we were looking for in a new office location, both for our company and our employees,” said Renaud Laplanche, Upgrade Co-founder and CEO. “It is at the center of a dynamic business environment, is convenient to workforce living throughout the Valley and is surrounded by amenities, including a light rail stop right at the building. This is going to help us recruit talent who want to work in a fast-growing company that also cares about offering a great work environment.”

Executive Vice President Ryan Bartos from the JLL Phoenix office, along with Managing Director Travis James and Vice President Matt Aljets from the JLL San Francisco office, represented Upgrade in its site selection and lease negotiations.

“We’ve reached a point where there are more than 70,000 jobs within one mile of downtown,” said Bartos. “That makes it an extremely attractive destination for a company.” He adds that Tempe is an equally dynamic location, but with an approximate 5 percent vacancy rate, finding the amount of space a company like Upgrade needs is challenging and expensive. He says that Old Town Scottsdale has large blocks of space as well, but its lease rates are also still high.

“A company saves 15 percent to 30 percent locating in downtown Phoenix,” said Bartos. “Along with that savings, they gain a location where there are significant amenities available within a short walk and access to great talent.”

“Phoenix is rapidly becoming a recognized destination for tech companies looking to expand operations,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Upgrade is a significant addition to our Downtown tech hub – a Silicon Valley-based online lender that will add 300 employees to the thriving innovation culture that is growing in our high rise-office space and historic warehouses.”

“After a competitive process, I’m pleased that Upgrade has selected Arizona to scale their operation,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Upgrade’s arrival is a significant addition to Arizona’s already thriving advanced business services sector, and further evidence of the fact that Arizona’s value proposition continues to resonate with companies seeking a location to scale their success rapidly.”

Upgrade is the fourth major technology company—the third from San Francisco—to make a Phoenix expansion. A major consideration for Upgrade is the $50 million in renovations underway by new Renaissance owners Cypress Office Properties and Oaktree Capital Management.

“We are repositioning Renaissance Square to be Phoenix’s premier office towers,” said Mark Wayne, Principal with Cypress Office Properties. “The modernization of the lobbies and the addition of indoor-outdoor collaborative meeting space outside tenants’ offices is what companies want today.”

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