The CFA Institute, the Charlottesville-based, not-for-profit organization that accredits investment professionals and is one of the primary providers of those sets of letters after chartered financial analysts’ names, is downsizing.
The institute announced this past week that it had sold its High Street headquarters, the former home of Martha Jefferson Hospital in the city, and will be leasing back a fraction of the space.
Lo-Hi LLC is listed as the buyer in the deal valued at $21.9 million, according to the Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer team that handled the sale and lease negotiations on behalf of Lo-Hi and will handle the office space leasing going forward.
Thalhimer said Lo-Hi — its name a play on the intersection of High Street and Locust Avenue outside the office’s front door — doesn’t plan to lease out the entire office.
“Lo-Hi, LLC will also be opening Lo-Hi Coworking,” the real estate firm said in a statement announcing the deal, “which will provide Charlottesville with private executive office space for 1-10 employee companies.”
CFA said it plans to remain in 47,000 square feet of the 120,000-square-foot building that has been its home in Charlottesville since January 2014 after a major renovation of the space.
It’s not the first time the CFA Institute has announced a major scale-back in operations in recent memory.
COVID-19 had a major impact on operations for an organization that primarily administered in-person, proctored examinations before the pandemic.
In 2020, company revenue dropped from roughly $400 million in annual profits to just more than $100 million.
Like the steep drop-off in revenue, so too has the workforce declined.
In 2015, the organization was the fifth-largest private employer in the city with more than 450 people employed locally at the former Martha Jefferson property, making an average of $81,513 per year.
"We currently have approximately 275 staff in Charlottesville, which is our largest office globally and where many staff have hybrid work schedules," CFA spokeswoman Carly Hall told The Daily Progress on Friday.
The few workers left in the High Street building today told The Daily Progress they could not comment on how many employees were regularly working out of the old Martha Jefferson building. However, desks were visibly empty, dust appeared to be collecting on computer monitors and offices sat dark.
One front desk worker, who declined to provide their name, said, “There are only a couple of people left working in the building now.”
CFA has framed the sale-leaseback as an affirmation of its presence and commitment to Charlottesville.
“We are very pleased to be maintaining our presence at 915 East High Street in Charlottesville, where a significant portion of our workforce lives and works,” Marty Colburn, managing director and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “We will take this opportunity to build out our office space in a more modern design and in keeping with the dynamic work environment brought on by hybrid work arrangements. We are excited to be developing a leading-edge work environment, and we are delighted to be doing so right here in Charlottesville.”
CFA Institute originally established its presence in Charlottesville on the Grounds of the University of Virginia in the early 1960s.