Cousins Properties sells landmark Atlanta tower

The 191 Peachtree Tower in downtown Atlanta, listed as city’s fourth tallest building, rises behind the Georgia-Pacific Center building. AJC File Photo

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The 191 Peachtree Tower in downtown Atlanta, listed as city’s fourth tallest building, rises behind the Georgia-Pacific Center building. AJC File Photo

The landmark downtown Atlanta office tower 191 Peachtree has been sold to a new owner.

A joint venture of Miami-based Banyan Street Capital and investment funds under management of Oaktree Capital Management said Tuesday they have acquired the 50-story tower from Atlanta-based Cousins Properties. The tower is one of the best known in Atlanta’s skyline, and is currently home to such corporate tenants as Deloitte, the Integral Group, Cooper Carry, the Woodruff Foundation and The Commerce Club.

The tower is also soon to be the new home of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

“Downtown Atlanta is a premier destination for business and commerce, and 191 Peachtree is the market’s landmark office building,” Rudy Touzet, Banyan Street founder and CEO, said in a news release. “This acquisition is an important expansion of our Atlanta portfolio and demonstrates the demand for Class A office located within walkable, urban centers.”

Banyan Street also owns the nearby Peachtree Center office complex.

Cousins said said it sold the tower for $268 million.

“Cousins is proud to have been a part of downtown Atlanta’s resurgence over the last ten years, and by remaining as the property manager for 191 Peachtree going forward, we are excited to continue our relationship with our customers, the new owner and the downtown community,” Cousins President and CEO Larry Gellerstedt said.

The recent past of 191 Peachtree follows in many ways downtown’s economic arc. The tower, originally developed by Cousins and Hines, opened in the early 1990s as Atlanta’s premier business address. It once counted King & Spalding and Wachovia as tenants, but many of its blue chip tenants left downtown for offices in Midtown and elsewhere in the 2000s.

The ornate tower was nearly empty in 2006 when Cousins acquired it from Equity Office Properties at a near fire-sale price of $153 million. Cousins at the time also announced plans to move downtown from Cobb County, a shot in the arm for the city’s core.

Cousins pushed occupancy to 93 percent and made significant investments in the tower. Cousins will remain in the tower and as the building manager with Cushman & Wakefield taking on the role of leasing agent.

“We view 191 Peachtree as one of the finest buildings in the Southeast, which we intend to own for the long-term,” Todd Liker, managing director at Oaktree, said in the announcement.

This month, Cousins completed a $2 billion merger with rival Parkway Properties. In April, when the deal was announced, Cousins President and CEO Larry Gellerstedt said the company would look to make strategic property sales to have ready capital for future investment.