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CHARLOTTE-The 46-story, 950,000-sf, $160 million Hearst Tower, the largest and tallest office building under construction here, is 96% pre-leased and is expected to be fully rented months before its scheduled opening in early 2002.

The Hearst Corp. will occupy about 200,000 sf. Bank of America, the asset’s lead developer, is taking about 475,000 sf.

Other tenants will be the law firms of Kennedy Covington, Lobdell and Hickman, 160,000 sf; Mayer Brown and Platt, 40,000 sf and PricewaterhouseCooper, 80,000 sf, leaving approximately 35,000 sf to be filled.

Bank of America is developing the project with Trammell Crow Co. and the Keith Corp. Atlanta architects Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart & Associates have incorporated horizontal panels of glass with vertical pillars of stone and concrete. There won’t be a 13th floor but the building will house a reservoir designed for emergency use.

Another design feature is that of reverse floorplates. The upper floors average about 24,000 sf and the lower floors about 20,000 sf. The building’s 950,000 sf will allow for roughly 40,000 sf of retail on North Tryon Street. A parking deck for 1,500 vehicles is also part of the project.

The Hearst Corp. will be moving its staff from its current location in the Carillon Building on West Trade Street. The company’s Charlotte offices focus primarily on back-office operations that Hearst moved here in 1991.

It is anticipated that tenants will be allowed to start move-in preparations by the summer but will not officially occupy the building until early 2002.

The developers estimate the cost of the building at $160 million, $8 million of which will be spent on 31 high-tech elevators from Otis Elevator Co. Bank of America is planning to install brass railings on the College Street side of the building. The railings once adorned an Au Bon Marche department store in Paris.

A number of existing buildings at the site will be unaffected by the new construction. They are Ri-Ra Irish pub, the Carolina Theater and the Mint Museum of Craft & Design.

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