Structure of the Week: Bank of America Plaza
Customers outraged by Bank of America’s new debit card pricing policy and participants in last week's Occupy Atlanta march to BofA Plaza should take heart in this piece of irony: the company that owns the Bank of America building is facing foreclosure at the hands of another banking giant — Wells Fargo.
Back in February, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that BentleyForbes, the company that now owns BofA Plaza, was on the brink of default, and its loan had been turned over for “special servicing.” (If BentleyForbes was a person, this would mean getting nasty collection calls and preparing ready to move from the 1% to the 99%. And, on that note, if there was a person called Bentley Forbes, he probably would have had a miserable middle-school experience, walking around with a name like that.) Bentley F. bought the tower from a partnership, developer Cousins Properties and BofA, for $436 million back in the heady real-estate market of 2006. A decade ago, demand for space was so high that the tower was almost completely leased before it opened. This year, it's less than 25 percent occupied.
The tower, one of the ten tallest in the United States, has a history that demonstrates the rash of banking mergers in recent years. It was started in 1991 as the C&S/Sovran Bank building, but by the time construction was done in 1992, C&S/Sovran had been gobbled up in a merger with NCNB, thus the building opened as the NCNB/NationsBank Plaza. And that name, of course, changed, when Bank of America began buying up everything in sight.
At a soaring fifty-five stories and 1,024 feet, the tower is the tallest U.S. building outside of Chicago or New York. It’s imposing enough by day, but particularly distinctive at night when the twenty-story steel pyramid that makes up its top is lit from within, creating a glowing, golden peak. My friend Susan refers to it as the “cigarette building” because of the way the tip seems to smolder. It's no wonder the building glows: those girders are covered in 23-karat gold leaf, a whopping 405 square-feet of it.
Old-timers will remember that the tower replaced the C&S Bank Building, an odd, cylindrical structure at North Avenue and West Peachtree that many of us affectionately referred to as the "paper towel building." Check out this Atlanta Time Machine post and you'll understand why.