New Bank of America tower under contract for NC record of $436 million

In what would be the most expensive office building sale in state history, Raleigh-based Highwoods Properties said it has agreed to purchase Bank of America’s new tower in Charlotte for $436 million.

The sale, which is expected to close in November, marks Highwoods’ entrance into the Charlotte market, the company stated in a release Wednesday.

Bank of America employees started moving into the 33-story tower at 620 South Tryon St. last week.

The tower is the first part of Legacy Union, a project that Lincoln Harris is developing on 10 acres along Interstate 277 that was the former home of The Charlotte Observer building.

The project also includes an 18-story office building anchored by consulting firm Deloitte, and a 23-story tower where Honeywell will move its headquarters.

Brian Leary ⁠— who was an executive at Crescent Communities ⁠— one of the largest developers in Charlotte, recently took a position with Highwoods as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Highwoods is a publicly-traded real estate investment trust.

In the release, Highwood CEO Ed Fritsch said Charlotte had been at the top of the firm’s list for market expansion, citing its economic growth.

A Raleigh firm is under contract to purchase the new Bank of America tower for $436 million. Courtesy of Bank of America

Other big sales

The tower is one of several prominent office towers sold in uptown recently.

To date, the sale of One Wells Fargo Center in uptown Charlotte for $284 million in 2016 was the largest office building transaction in the state, according to commercial real estate firm CBRE. That would change if the Bank of America tower sale goes through as expected.

Last year, CBRE Global Investors purchased the 18-story building at 615 South College St., which houses Regions Financial Corp., for $222 million, property records show. On a price-per-square-foot basis, that was the city’s most expensive building sale, according to JLL. The Bank of America building comes in second under that measure at around $518 per square foot, compared to $590 for the South College Street building.

BOFA Tower1.jpg
Raleigh-based Highwoods Properties plans to purchase the new Bank of America tower for $436 million. Matt Walsh MWALSH@CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.COM

And Charlotte-based developer Crescent Communities and Nuveen Real Estate acquired a 20-story tower at 101 North Tryon St. for $132 million, property records show.

Kenny Smith, a broker at New South Properties and former city council member, said he would expect the other buildings in the Legacy Union project to sell.

“Most firms look to buy, build, create value and then flip,” he said.

The sale could also impact what officials decide to do on the northern side of uptown, he said, where the North Tryon Vision Plan is underway. The plan, adopted in 2016 by Mecklenburg County Commissioners, calls for pedestrian-friendly streets, with public art, shops and restaurants.

“You’ve now seen the southern tip produce some really big numbers,” he said. “Now you’ve got the vision plan for North Tryon. Does what’s happened on the south end change any of that?”

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Danielle Chemtob covers economic growth and development for the Observer. She’s a 2018 graduate of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill and a California transplant.