Charlotte: Jukebox record

 In May 2016, NC Trend

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Perhaps in a just world, former First Union and Wachovia investors would be sharing in the proceeds of the $284 million sale of Charlotte’s One Wells Fargo Center — the highest price ever paid for a North Carolina office building. It’s where Wachovia executives concocted the ill-advised 2006 acquisition of Golden West Financial, turning a famous North Carolina institution into a ward of the federal government, which directed its sale. Wells Fargo got the bank for a steal in the dark days of 2008. But rather than investors, the winners from this sale are Starwood Capital and Vision Properties, who bought the 42-story “jukebox” tower for $245 million three years earlier from an affiliate of Childress Klein Properties.

The buyer is Nevada businessman Dennis Troesh. The sale of the building, which opened in 1988 as First Union Center and is 98% leased, topped the $250 million sale of Hearst Tower in 2012 as a record price in the state. The assessed value of One Wells Fargo was $182 million. Brokers started working on the deal last September, and it took longer than expected because of its complexity, says Will Yowell, an Atlanta-based CBRE vice chairman.

“There was a fairly finite universe of prospective investors,” Yowell says. When the 1-million-square-foot building sold in 2013, “Charlotte was still reeling a bit,” he says. “People were concerned about what was happening with the big banks.”

Today feels a lot different, with Charlotte perceived as less dependent on Bank of America and Wells Fargo, he says. The price also reflects confidence that Wells Fargo, which occupies 70% of the building and has its East Coast headquarters there, will remain committed to the Queen City.

Institutional investors still generally prefer Atlanta over Charlotte because the Georgia capital has four times as much office space — 200 million square feet vs. 50 million. “But in the last 10 or 15 years, I’ve really seen institutional capital increasingly attracted to Charlotte because of the quality of life, population growth and the infrastructure investments such as the airport, light rail and Interstate 485,” he says.

The $284 million sale of One Wells Fargo Center marks the highest price ever paid for a North Carolina office building, though others have fetched more per square foot.

Other big-ticket sales in Charlotte:

  • Bank of America sold the 972,000-square-foot Hearst Tower to Parkway Properties for $250 million in 2012.
  • Crescent Resources and Lincoln Harris sold Piedmont Town Center to Principal Real Estate Investors (representing an unnamed client) for $171 million in 2007. The office and retail complex includes about 560,000 square feet.
  • CBRE Investors and California State Teachers Retirement System sold the 27-story Charlotte Plaza for $160 million to New York-based JFR Global investments in April 2015. It has about 645,000 square feet of space.

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The Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce last month named Barbi Jones executive director. She was previously chief communications and engagement officer at United Way of Central Carolinas, based in Charlotte. Jones, 51, is a longtime resident of Cabarrus County and has worked for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and the Junior Charity League of Concord. A graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, she replaces Patrick Coughlin, who was dismissed in December after two years in the position. The group serves more than 600 members in Concord, Kannapolis, Mount Pleasant, Harrisburg, Midland and Cabarrus County.


CHARLOTTE – Crescent Communities and Lincoln Harris announced a 1,300-acre development in southwest Charlotte that could include up to 4,000 apartments and houses, 8 million square feet of offices and 500,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Tentatively called the “River District,” the land is between Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the Catawba River.

CHARLOTTE – Director Charles Gifford will retire after 12 years on the board of Bank of America. Thomas Woods, former senior executive vice president of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, was selected to replace him.

CHARLOTTE – Detroit-based Ally Financial will acquire TradeKing Group, a digital wealth-management company based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for about $275 million. Ally had $158.6 billion in assets as of Dec. 31 and employs about 800 people here. TradeKing has about 105 employees based in Charlotte that will become Ally employees.

CHARLOTTE – Duke Energy named Dhiaa Jamil, 59, chief operating officer. He currently oversees nuclear, fossil/hydro, fuels and systems optimization, and various other divisions. Melissa Anderson, 51, was named chief human resources officer, and Regis Repko was named senior vice president and chief fossil/hydro officer, succeeding Charlie Gates, who is retiring. The utility formed a new Business Transformation and Technology Group to unite its information, technology and security units. Brian Savoy, 40, will lead the new organization.

CHARLOTTE – Technology Partners, which does business as ImagineSoftware, named E.J. “Ned” Holland Jr. a director. Holland most recently was assistant secretary for administration at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ImagineSoftware develops and sells billing-automation software for medical offices and hospitals.

CHINA GROVE – Tuscarora Yarns will close its local plant and 123 people will lose their jobs. Founded in Mount Pleasant in 1899, the company makes specialty yarns for apparel, home furnishings and automotive industries.

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