Tower leased to Bank of America is sold

Pa. REIT buys 14 buildings, including 100 S. Charles St.

January 16, 2003|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

American Financial Realty Trust said yesterday that it bought the downtown Baltimore office tower at 100 S. Charles St. as part of a $338 million package deal for 14 office buildings leased to the Bank of America

The 17-story Baltimore building, at Lombard and Charles streets, and the other buildings in seven states were sold by a subsidiary of Dana Commercial Credit Corp.

"This transaction is the fourth acquisition of properties involving a major financial institution that we have completed since our funding as a private REIT in September 2002. We are pleased to be able to add these office buildings to our portfolio of financial institution properties," said Nicholas S. Schorsch, chief executive officer of American Financial, in a statement.

No one at the real estate investment trust's headquarters in Jenkintown, Pa., could be reached for comment yesterday. The seller referred calls to the buyer. Few details of the transaction were released.

The Bank of America building was built in 1980, and 78 percent of the 430,000 square feet of space is leased, according to CoStar Group real estate information. Rent averages $21 a square foot, a typical amount for older office buildings in desirable downtown locations.

The building is assessed at $37.5 million, according to state records.

American Financial intends to continue buying single-tenant bank branches and multi-tenant office buildings from financial institutions. The company manages them primarily under long-term leases with banks.

Baltimore and other cities have seen a spate of office buildings go on the market or sell recently. The prolonged economic downturn has forced up vacancy rates in many buildings, but those with a full slate of tenants, or mostly full, are gaining attention from investors avoiding hard-hit stocks, real estate brokers say.

Other buildings in the city are for sale, including the building anchored by Piper Rudnick LLP in Mount Washington owned by the St. Paul Cos.

Those that sold in the past year include 19 E. Fayette St., the Chicago Title Insurance building that houses a Walgreen's; and the Bank of America art deco building at 10 Light St. Several buildings in the suburbs were sold, mainly in Columbia, Annapolis and near the airport.

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