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Bank of America Plaza Sold for $235 Million at Auction

Bank of America Plaza, the tallest tower in the U.S. Southeast, was sold at a public auction today on the steps of the Fulton County Courthouse after landlord BentleyForbes missed mortgage payments.

The noteholder had a winning bid of $235 million, according to attorney Howard Walker of McGuire Woods LLP, who ran the auction. Holders of commercial mortgage bonds took ownership through a “credit bid” placed by LNR Partners, David Levin said in an e-mailed statement. Levin is vice chairman of Miami Beach, Florida-based LNR Property LLC, the parent company of LNR Partners, the tower’s special servicer.

BentleyForbes, based in Los Angeles, paid $436 million to acquire the 55-story Atlanta skyscraper in 2006 from Bank of America Corp. and Cousins Properties Inc. in the city’s biggest property deal. Since the property market peaked a year after the purchase, the 1.25 million-square-foot (116,000-square-meter) building’s value has tumbled with tenants, including namesake Bank of America, reducing space.

Atlanta has the highest rate of late payments for loans on offices bundled into bonds among the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, at 25.3 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s an increase from 10.4 percent a year ago and is more than triple the 7 percent national rate.

The $363 million Bank of America Plaza loan became delinquent in December after BentleyForbes stopped making payments. The loan was partly packaged inside JPMCC 2006-LDP9, which was downgraded by Fitch Ratings in December because of expected losses.

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