DALLAS-In a quiet hand-off, the owner of the largest class A office building in the Downtown has turned over the leasing keys, and possibly management too, to Transwestern. Those closest to the change aren’t talking, but undercurrent speculation is the 1.19-million-sf Bank of America Plaza went into play because its former overseer had won the reins to a chief competitor in the CBD.

Transwestern has confirmed the change, but isn’t talking about it or the lease-up strategy for the 84%-occupied high rise at 901 Main St., which is controlled by Del Ray Beach, FL-based Sunbelt Management Co. The asset manager’s not talking; ditto for Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc., which had the leasing and management assignment for many years. Sunbelt acquired the 72-story building in 1998 from its developer, Bramalea Ltd. of Toronto and Newark-based Prudential Life Insurance Co.

There is speculation in brokerage circles that C&W’s assignment win for the 1.5-million-sf Bank One Center at 1717 Main St. caused Sunbelt to re-evaluate its leasing situation. Transwestern has teamed landlord-savvy Sheryl Pickens, a senior vice president, and CBD tenant rep mainstay, principal Sanders Thompson, to handle Bank of America Plaza, effectively stacking the deck with well-respected veterans from both sides of the street in a double-edged attack plan.

The C&W website shows Bank of America Plaza has 486,553 sf of open space, with 14 full floors and eight stories of partially occupied space. The maximum contiguous block is 181,814 sf. C&W’s leasing team was quoting $19 per sf to $22 per sf plus electric.

On top of the present vacancy, Bank of America Plaza’s new leasing team is running head-on into another challenge: Haynes & Boone law firm’s exit of nearly 100,000 sf. The firm will move in 2009 to the 450,000-sf One Victory Park, where it will join Ernst & Young in the 20-story building. Bank of America Plaza, positioned across the street from the courthouse, is a favored nesting ground for law firms and financial services tenants.

As word filters to the street about the Bank of America Plaza change, sources are wondering if a renovation of the 22-year-old high rise might be at hand although it’s not perceived as needing one. What they do know is Sunbelt didn’t open up the competition for the assignment.

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