Downtown Trust Building under contract

Apr. 21, 2014 @ 06:44 PM

The downtown Trust Building on West Main Street is under contract for sale to a partnership that includes Alston Gardner, a founder and a partner in an Atlanta-based private equity firm.

Gardner, who is also a member of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, said he’s working in partnership with his sister to possibly buy the building.
He said they have it under contract with an extended due diligence period in which they’re going to investigate the cost of renovating the building to bring it up to the Class-A office standard.
Gardner said in an email that they also want to try to get a clearer picture on what will happen with state historic tax credits that are set to expire at the end of the year.
They have 120 days to make a decision about whether to buy the building, Gardner said in an interview last week. He said they envision having multiple tenants in the building.
“The reality is that the building has got some significant problems,” Gardner said. “(It) needs a new roof, new mechanical system including heat and air, it needs some structural work, all the floors are chopped in a variety of ways and need to be gutted and redone. Our intention would be to take it to a Class-A office level of finish.”
The building, which is also known as the TeerMark Building, is owned by a limited liability company managed by the Durham-based firm Greenfire Development, according to property records.
Gardner said the timing of their interest in possibly buying the building is influenced by other downtown projects, including the proposal for a 26-story tower downtown at the corner of Corcoran, Main and Parrish streets.
The building is immediately adjacent to what’s known as the Hill Building, a tower on Corcoran that was also bought by Greenfire in 2006, but that has been sold to the Kentucky-based company, 21c Museum Hotels, which plans to turn it into a contemporary art-infused boutique hotel.
Gardner also said he believes there’s a dearth of available Class-A office space downtown, and there are growing tech companies coming out of the American Underground in downtown Durham.
“Though we certainly would be open to the notion of renting it to one tenant, and we don’t have a tenant in mind at the moment,” he said. “It would be a speculative venture to say the least.”
In addition to the West Main Street building, Gardner said they are also considering buying a building at 619-20 Foster St. If there are no unforeseen problems during the due diligence period, he said they could close on the building May 15.
Attempts to reach a Greenfire official for comment by email on Monday were not successful.