Bank of America Plaza is becoming a tech hub? Really?
If the new team tapped to lease Atlanta’s tallest tower has their way, software engineers might join suited-up bankers and partners at silk-stocking law firms in the halls and elevators of the garnet-colored skyscraper.
BofA Plaza is about half empty and hasn’t attracted any headline-grabbing leases since it tumbled into foreclosure in 2012. Despite the loads of vacant space, the tower hasn’t landed some of the big names like Mercedes-Benz that have gone elsewhere for their office needs.
So now a shift in strategy is in order.
Owner CW Capital Asset Management has tapped the leasing team that’s turned Atlantic Station into hub for technology companies like Pandora, Worldpay US and marketing firm Ogilvy & Mather.
Tech firms have made Ponce City Market, the former Sears warehouse/City Hall East, into a thriving technology center. Why not Bank of America Plaza?
In a news release earlier this month, real estate services giant CBRE announced its brokers Jeff Keppen, Chris Port, Katherine Lynch, Nicole Goldsmith and Elliott Grand have taken on the job of filling the lonely tower.
“Our team is excited to take on the challenge,” Keppen said in the news release. “Bank of America is one of the best assets in the city and is positioned to perform well in the years to come, considering its location in the city’s hot bed for talent.”
Sure, the tower at Peachtree Street and North Avenue is centrally located near Georgia Tech’s Technology Square and key assets like the Fox Theatre, a MARTA station and loads of new apartment buildings. And tech firms like NCR and Sage Software have made splashy announcements about new expansions near Tech.
But the plaza has a bit of baggage.
The tower became an emblem of the region’s economic meltdown when it was foreclosed in 2012. At 1,023 feet tall, the tower at the border of downtown and Midtown suffered the ignominy of becoming the tallest U.S. building foreclosed since the recession.
Originally designed for C&S Bank and renamed for successor institutions, the tower prospered for years and fetched a then-record $436 million in 2006 when Cousins Properties sold the nearly full building to California real estate firm BentleyForbes. Soon after, the economic crisis hit. Companies scaled back and newer vacant buildings started wooing tenants. Office vacancies around the city soared and property values and rents plummeted.
BofA Plaza is the tallest U.S. building that’s not in New York or Chicago, it boasts nearly 1.3 million square feet of floor space, as much as many large malls.
Bank of America Plaza’s tenant list currently includes its namesake bank and law firm Troutman Sanders.
Timeline of a tower
Late 1980s: C&S Bank and Cousins Properties announce plans for a new C&S headquarters, to be Atlanta’s tallest building, at 600 Peachtree St.
1991: C&S/Sovran is acquired by Charlotte-based NCNB and becomes NationsBank, a precursor to Bank of America.
1992: The 55-story tower opens as NationsBank Plaza.
1999: Name changes to Bank of America Plaza after NationsBank acquires Bank of America and takes its name.
2006: California real estate firm BentleyForbes buys Bank of America Plaza from Bank of America and Cousins Properties for $436 million, an Atlanta record.
February 2011: Fitch Ratings issues a report stating Bank of America Plaza is in “imminent default” and a special servicer has been brought in to help work out the troubled debt.
February 2012: Bank of America Plaza is foreclosed.
Late 2012: CW Capital Asset Management takes control of the tower on behalf of its bond-holding owners.