McAngus moving to a Main Street view

McAngus, Goudelock & Courie will move its offices from the Vista and lease space from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in the Meridian office tower on Main Street.

McAngus, the region's eighth-largest law firm, will occupy the ninth floor and part of the 10th floor in October, according to real estate advisor Studley Inc., which worked with McAngus on the move.

McAngus is moving from a converted warehouse across Gervais Street from the EdVenture Children's Museum. The new space is a little smaller than the office that McAngus has rented for seven years.

That will be more efficient for the state's first major law firm to receive a legal industry certification for its green practices. Also, McAngus wants to create more break areas to allow lawyers and staff to interact more.

"It's just laid out better for our needs," said James Courie, McAngus' managing partner. "We've been kind of spread out."

McAngus and Nelson Mullins have no plans to merge, said Courie and Jim Gray, Nelson Mullins' administrative partner.

"We've got a good, long-standing relationship with Nelson Mullins," Courie said. McAngus has 103 attorneys in six Carolinas offices, including 27 in Columbia.

Nelson Mullins has leased the top nine floors of Meridian from Holder Properties since it opened in 2004, setting off a spate of office building and renovation on Main Street.

One floor that McAngus has leased from Nelson Mullins is empty, and another is partially used by back-office operations, including human resources and information technology. The lease is for about eight years.

Nelson Mullins, the region's largest firm, planned for space in Meridian in 2002 when the economy was stronger and more growth in the Columbia area was expected, Gray said.

The firm had been adding seven lawyers a year in Columbia, but have just added about three a year since moving into Meridian, he said.

Nelson Mullins has been marketing the extra space for more than two years. The firm will keep the empty 8th floor for future expansion, Gray said.

While the firm is leasing excess space in Columbia, Nelson Mullins last year expanded its offices in Boston and Washington and added offices in Tallahassee, Fla., and Huntington, W. Va. The firm has about 130 attorneys in Columbia and more than 400 in a dozen offices.

Meridian is about 85 percent occupied, up from about 65 percent when it opened five years ago, said John Holder, chief executive officer of Holder Properties. The entire fifth floor remains available.

The McAngus move is the first sublease in the building on Main Street between Lady and Washington streets, he said.

But Holder said interest has picked up in recent weeks as businesses expect that 2010 will be better than last year.

"We have some good prospects," he said.