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One Wells Fargo Center might change hands in April

CHARLOTTE — The One Wells Fargo Center tower in uptown has attracted a new buyer, Starwood Capital Group and Vision Equities, a source close to the deal confirmed for The Mecklenburg Times Monday afternoon.

The Charlotte Business Journal reported on the possible sale Friday. On Monday, other Charlotte news outlets picked up on the story.

The source that confirmed the deal for The Mecklenburg Times did not want to be identified until after, and if, the sale goes through. Starwood and Vision declined to confirm or deny that a sale is pending.

Connecticut-based Starwood and New Jersey-based Vision agreed to finalize the purchase of the building 301 S. College St. in April, the source said. The 42-story tower was built in 1988 and has a total of 1.05 million heated square feet, of which 954,531 are leasable,  according to Mecklenburg County land records. In 2011, the county appraised the building at $164.5 million and sold for nearly $3.8 million in 1986.

Fred Arena, managing partner with Vision, said that although he could not say whether his company is in talks to buy the building, Vision is interested in Charlotte.

“We love Charlotte and …  given our prior investment in Charlotte, we continue to want to grow our platform there,” Arena said.

Last year, Vision joined with CarVal Investors, of Minneapolis-based Cargill, to buy Coliseum Centre off Tyvola Road for $103 million.

One Wells Fargo Center, the former headquarters of Wachovia Corp, is owned by a Childress Klein Properties affiliate. The nearly 1 million-square-foot tower is about 98 percent occupied. Wells Fargo is the largest tenant, occupying about 72 percent of the building, or 686,834 square feet, with a lease running through 2021. The tower, at 588 feet, is one of the tallest buildings in North Carolina.

In 2012, an Israeli real estate firm, Tel Aviv-based Azrieli Group, backed out of a deal to purchase the tower for $245 million, according to Moran Goder, head of investor relations for the firm.

If the sale comes to fruition, it wouldn’t be the first time Starwood has bought Charlotte real estate. In late 2012, Starwood bought two office buildings in the LakePointe Corporate Center from Wells Real Estate Investment Trust II for about $28 million. Starwood’s two properties were only a portion of a $260.5-million portfolio of nine office buildings Wells Real Estate Investment Trust sold.

Bennett can be reached at (704) 247-2911, abbie.bennett@mecktimes.com or on Twitter at @AbbieRBennett.

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