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Wells Fargo Center

Wells Fargo Center, garages sold for $79M

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

New York and Miami investors partnered to pay $75.3 million for the Wells Fargo Center, Jacksonville’s signature tower on the Downtown Northbank riverfront.

Allegiance Partners of New York paid $44.75 million through Allegiance Jacksonville LLC. Banyan Real Estate Capital of Miami paid $30.55 million through WFC Lessee LLC.

The 37-story tower was built in 1975 as the headquarters for Jacksonville-based Independent Life & Accident Insurance Co. and was long known as the Independent Life Building.

Taking up the 1 Independent Drive city block, the building is considered one of Jacksonville’s most-recognized buildings and used in skyline shots of the city.

Allegiance and Banyan also paid a combined $3.7 million for a three-story parking garage at 21 E. Bay St. A nine-story parking garage at 1 W. Bay St. was included in the purchase of the building.

Representatives of the investment companies could not be reached this morning for comment.

The 650,000-square-foot center is about 89 percent leased.

The tower sale closed June 18 and the garage deal followed June 20. The transactions were recorded Tuesday with the Duval County Clerk of Court.

Two mortgages totaling $66.4 million were issued to the investors June 20 and recorded Tuesday.

American General Life Insurance Co. and National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh made a $31.4 million mortgage to Allegiance for the three structures – the tower and two garages.

Rialto Mortgage Finance LLC made a $35 million mortgage to Banyan for the properties.

The buyers’ limited liability companies were registered with the state June 12.

The firms bought the building and garages from a Wilmington, Del.-based trust. Duval County property records show FOO Trust II and Wachovia Trust Co., as trustee of FOO Trust II, own the building. The garage is owned by members of the same group.

The Wells Fargo Center has been on the market since at least November. It last sold in 1997 for $35.7 million.

Wells Fargo Center was one of three Downtown towers on the market. Also for sale are the 42-story Bank of America Tower at 50 N. Laura St. and the 30-story EverBank Center at 301 W. Bay St. The Bank of America Tower is under contract and expected to change hands soon.

Wells Fargo Center began as the Independent Life Building, then became the AccuStaff Building starting in 1998 and later the Modis Building before Wells Fargo became the anchor tenant and marquee name in 2011.

Independent Life and Accident Insurance Co. sold the building to ACP-I Limited Partnership of Winter Park in 1997. Through a series of transactions, Highwoods Realty Limited Partnership of Raleigh, N.C., sold it to in 2000 to Florida Office Owners LLC of Orlando.

CBRE Inc., as the exclusive adviser in the building’s sale, issued an executive summary in November that said the building was 88 percent leased to 47 tenants, including Wells Fargo, Regency Centers, UBS and the Internal Revenue Service. Wells Fargo’s lease runs through 2024.

CBRE said parking is provided below the tower in a garage as well as in two additional garages, for a total of 1,831 spaces.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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