BofA to sell Hearst Tower, other properties

BofA to sell Hearst Tower, other properties

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by Kirsten Valle Pittman / The Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on February 1, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 1 at 8:02 PM

Bank of America Corp. plans to sell and lease back the Hearst Tower, a 46-story fixture on Charlotte's skyline, and other properties as it works to streamline expenses, the bank said Wednesday.

The Charlotte-based lender is also selling the Fifth Third Center uptown and 222 Broadway in New York, which it inherited when it acquired Merrill Lynch in 2009. The moves are part of chief executive Brian Moynihan's wide-ranging efficiency initiative, Project New BAC, which has included the sale of noncore businesses, job cuts and management changes.

"Real estate ownership is not a core business for Bank of America; therefore we are currently reviewing our portfolio and may make the decision to sell our ownership interest in certain properties," bank spokeswoman Kelli Raulerson said. "After the sale, we will continue to lease space in these properties, and there will be no impact to employees."

She declined to say whether the bank had buyers lined up for the properties. Bank of America still owns its headquarters building, the 60-story Bank of America Corporate Center, located at the corner of Trade and Tryon streets uptown. That tower and One Bryant Park, the bank's base in New York, are not part of the bank's review, Raulerson said.

The Hearst Tower, which opened in 2002 on North Tryon Street, is one of Charlotte's tallest buildings and features a three-story trading floor that's one of the largest in North America, according to its property manager's website. The nearby Fifth Third Center stands 30 stories.

"As our headquarters city, Bank of America has a long history in Charlotte," Raulerson said, "and we expect to maintain a significant presence for years to come."

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