A company that designs smart phones plans to open a research and development office in downtown Durham, officials said Tuesday.

HTC Corp. will employ about 45 people at the office, which will open by the end of March. The office will handle research into wireless technology and could expand in the future.

The deal to land HTC was first reported back in July. In October, Durham officials offered the company $150,000 in incentives to locate the operation in the city.

The American Tobacco Historic District, which is owned by LTW and WRAL.com parent Capitol Broadcasting, will house the HTC operation in space formerly occupied by GlaxoSmithKline.

HTC becomes the third major developer of mobile devices to pick the Triangle area for R&D operations over the last year after Sony Ericsson decided to close its North American headquarters and move to Atlanta.

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion and mobile location device manufacturer Garmin also are coming to the region.

Durham is also the home for applications developer and services provider PocketGear.

“HTC has been successful bringing its unique brand of people-centric innovation to consumers, and with the establishment of this new R&D office, we are taking an important step to extend our leadership position in the wireless industry,” Ron Louks, HTC chief strategy officer, said in a statement. “Durham is a perfect place to open our new R&D office because we are able to tap into this deep pool of technical talent that complements HTC’s leading-edge R&D efforts going on around the world.”

The Bellevue, Wash.-based company also has research offices in Seattle and San Francisco. The former focuses on creating innovative user experience design, while the latter works on industrial designs.

Get the latest news alerts: Follow LTW at Twitter.