Atlanta’s tallest tower, Bank of America Plaza, sold

Atlanta’s tallest tower and reputedly the tallest building foreclosed in the wake of the real estate meltdown has been sold.

San Francisco-based Shorenstein Properties said in a news release this week it has completed its purchase of Bank of America Plaza, one of Atlanta’s skyline landmarks that ultimately became a symbol of the city’s real estate crisis. The skyscraper will be owned by one of its managed funds.

A unit of CWCapital, which took over the building after former owner BentleyForbes lost the tower to foreclosure in 2012, formerly controlled the building. A sales price was not disclosed.

In many ways, BofA Plaza’s history mirrors Atlanta’s recent economic arc.

The tower’s construction was a symbol of Atlanta’s aspirations and rise as an international city in the 1990s. It’s the trophy office tower that fetched a record price in the heady real estate boom of the 2000s. Then it became an emblem of the city’s economic fall when its former owner lost control four years ago.

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The tower was nearly full when Atlanta’s Cousins Properties sold it during the boom, but now the giant building at the cusp of Midtown and downtown sits more than half-empty.

A high-flying leasing team from CBRE that turned Atlantic Station into a hive of tech and creative companies recently was hired to refill BofA Plaza. The strategy includes major corporate targets but also goes beyond them. The CBRE team also has marketed some of the space to startups and other creative firms, hoping that will generate buzz and draw bigger corporate tenants, too.

In a news release, Shorenstein said it plans to make improvements to the tower’s lobby and amenities, among other upgrades.

“Bank of America Plaza is a top quality corporate location with exceptional transit access and close proximity to the campus of Georgia Tech, one of the country’s leading public research institutions,” Matt Knisely, Shorenstein managing director of capital transactions, said in a news release. “This acquisition affords us the opportunity to strategically invest capital and utilize our strong asset, leasing and property management expertise to reposition the building within its market and ultimately add value.”

While Midtown has become a hot market for relocations and business expansions – particularly among technology firms – BofA Plaza has failed to win their business. That is likely in no small part to the dearth of activity on the streets surrounding it. The building is on a sort of island – not quite Midtown, not quite downtown.

The underdeveloped stretch of Peachtree Street lacks the restaurants and boutiques seen at Atlantic Station or near Peachtree and 14th streets.

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