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CHICAGO-The victim of just another one of the large recent corporate mergers, the 1.2-million-sf 135 S. LaSalle property, formerly known as the LaSalle Bank Building, is being offered up by the new company owner Bank of America as a sale-leaseback transaction. The company reportedly has a tendency to perform SLB’s on its properties to gain capital, and the company has said it will enter into a long-term lease in the building.

Bruce Miller, managing director with Jones Lang LaSalle, tells GlobeSt.com that there’s a historically low level of office properties for sale in Chicago. “Because of the current economic climate, financing is more difficult to achieve than in the past several years,” Miller says. He says he can think of only one other similar-sized property on the market, the 1.1-sf Hartford Plaza, two buildings that include 150 and 100 S. Wacker, put up by owner Marvin Herb. Rumor puts the possible price at a reported $275 million. “There are plenty of active buyers circling around properties with long-term, stable tenants with strong credit ratings…this is the right time to leverage the lack of competitive product in the market,” he says.

There have been a few recent transactions that have closed in this size category in Chicago. Gramercy Capital recently acquired a majority of the assets of American Financial Realty, including the one-million-sf Bank of America Center at 231 S. LaSalle, for $116.5 million. Beacon Capital Partners sold four major Downtown parcels, including 200 S. Wacker, 120 S. Riverside, 10 S. Riverside, One Financial Place, for $832 million, about $265 per sf, to Behringer Harvard.

Miller says that SLB’s are becoming a national trend. AT&T did a similar sale-leaseback with Kushner Cos. for its almost one-million-sf West Loop Office building for $276 million, or about $284 per sf. “Corporations are wisely converting real estate to cash to increase their capital ratios,” he says.

The 135 S. LaSalle building has multiple tenants, though Miller says he can’t identify the occupancy or lease rate in the 44-story building. The building suffered a multi-story fire in December 2004, and three years underwent a multimillion restoration that included a complete façade restoration, a new building automation and air distribution system, and a building-wide life safety system that allows early detection of smoke, fire, natural gas and carbon monoxide within the tower. Miller is joined in representing BofA by Jim Postweiler, managing director with JLL, as well as EVP Bruce Westwood-Booth and VP Peter Harwood.

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