OKC's tallest skyscraper sold to California buyer for $14.5 million

Thursday, October 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma City's tallest skyscraper has been sold to a California-based buyer for $14.5 million.

Bank One Center, formerly called Liberty Tower, was built in 1971. It's owner, Bank One, is getting out of the real estate business in downtown Oklahoma City but not getting out of Oklahoma City, spokesman Chris Spencer said.

``We remain committed as ever to providing high-quality financial services to consumers and businesses across Oklahoma,'' Spencer said from a Bank One regional office in Baton Rouge, La.

Bank One is selling real estate in several markets, he said.

The sell-off of property is not related to the financial giant's recent woes.

Bank One, which in Oklahoma has $3 billion in loans and other assets and more than 30 locations, recently has dealt with the loss of credit-card customers, a management overhaul and fallen stock.

The $256 billion corporation posted a net loss of $1.27 billion for the second quarter.

Spencer said Bank One plans to sell all main buildings acquired in bank acquisitions in the past several years. Bank One bought Liberty Bank & Trust in 1997.

The sale ``is not related to any of the issues we've had. We've been pursuing a strategy for several years now of selling real estate in markets across the country,'' Spencer said.

Bank One is concentrating on its core businesses - consumer, retail, commercial and small-business financial services, he said.

The buyer was Cherokee Simon LLC. Principals of the California concern wanted to remain anonymous, said Ron Dixon, vice president-investment broker for Trammell Crow Co.

Dixon brokered the transaction between the buyer and Liberty Real Estate Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank One.

Bank One Center has 512,000 leasable square feet of space, which makes it the fourth largest office building in the city. The building is 87 percent occupied.

Bank One will continue to occupy 178,000 square feet in the 36-floor building, making it the largest tenant. The next largest tenant is the Petroleum Club, which takes up about 35,000 square feet on the top three floors.

The second-tallest building in the city is City Place, with 33 floors. The First National Center has 32.

The sale price was 72.5 percent of its market value as assessed by the Oklahoma County Assessor's Office. The building's assessed value, which sat at $22.5 million through the mid-1990s, was adjusted to $20 million in 1999.

The disparity in the sale price and the assessed value can be explained partly because Bank One can afford to sell off property for less than a smaller company might, an expert observer says. Also, the market considered that the building is beginning the transition from an owner-occupied property to an institutional investor-owned office building where leasing space is more important.

Dixon said the sale means out-of-state institutional investors continue to see downtown Oklahoma City as an attractive place to park capital.

Trammell Crow-Outsourcing Services has been managing the property. Trammell Crow- Oklahoma City will now manage and handle leasing for the building, Dixon said.