Iris Dimmick / Rivard Report
A pending contract for the sale of Bank of America Plaza will set a new record for the price of a downtown office tower in San Antonio, with the Houston buyers reportedly paying more than $100 million.
Bank of America Plaza, located at 300 Convent St., is the city’s sixth tallest building at 28 stories and largest Class A office space with 533,171 sq. ft. It opened in 1984 as Interfirst Bank Plaza. Tenants include the Bank of America, OCI Solar, and some of the city’s most prominent law firms, including Aiken Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Norton Rose Fulbright; and Martin & Drought.
At nearly $200 per sq. ft., the unconfirmed price cited by local commercial real estate brokers who are not part of the transaction, the building would be valued at more than $100 million, far and away the highest price ever paid for a downtown office tower in San Antonio.
Bank of America Plaza is currently owned by Talcott Realty Investors of Hartford, Conn. The reported buyers are Houston-based Griffin Partners, developers of three San Antonio suburban tower projects, Union Square, the Northwest Center, and the Colonnade I, and Clarion Partners, a New York-based international real estate management and finance firm.
Todd Mills, executive vice president for CBRE Capital Markets in San Antonio and Austin, is handling the sale for the buyer. He declined comment for this story.
“This is going to be a game changer for downtown San Antonio,” said one commercial broker not involved in the sale. “Taken together with the Weston Urban/Frost Bank proposal, we are seeing the market come alive in a big way after 25 or 30 years.”
Several individuals in the commercial real estate market said the Bank of America Plaza sale is a sign that institutional investors who once passed over San Antonio while active in Dallas, Houston and Austin, are seeing higher prices in those cities and lower entry points here as a reason to buy in San Antonio. Such investment, they said, could spur the first new wave of significant development in downtown San Antonio since the 1980s.
The sale, expected to close in November, follows a pending Public-Private Partnership (P3) proposal by Weston Urban to build the first new office tower with parking garage in the city since the Weston Centre opened in 1988. The new Frost Bank Tower would be built on the site of the Frost Motor Bank and an adjacent parking lot at 200 West Travis and Camaron.
The existing Frost Bank would be swapped with other City properties by Weston Urban and allow the City to consolidate workers now spread through five different leased buildings. Several historic buildings, including the Municipal Plaza building on Main Plaza and the former Continental Hotel on West Commerce Street, that now houses the office of the Metropolitan Health District, would be acquired by Weston Urban and redeveloped. The project would include 300 new residential units, along with retail, mixed-use and an undeveloped block north of the current Frost Tower that Weston Urban would transform into a new park.
*Featured/top image: A section of Downtown San Antonio skyline, looking east, from left: One Riverwalk Place, Bank of America Plaza (parking garage in foreground), and the vacant Hedrick building. Photo by Iris Dimmick.