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Investment group purchases CertusBank building for $6.7M

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By Chris Cox
ccox@scbiznews.com
Published Sept. 16, 2015

Investment group Rockford Capital Partners has purchased the recently auctioned CertusBank Building on Lady Street for $6.7 million.

The 12-story, 148,000-square-foot facility had been the home of CertusBank since spring of 2014, but the company announced in early June it was selling its deposits, some loans and branches in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida in separate transactions. The building’s previous occupant, NBSC, moved into the Main & Gervais tower in 2010.

certus
The new owner of the Certus Bank building at Main and Lady streets plans to invest up to $2 million in improvements. (Photo/Chuck Crumbo) 
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to invest capital into improving the building and bringing it up a notch in the view of the market,” said Douglas Motley, principal of Rockford Capital. “We very much like the Columbia market and have had investments there before. We think it’s a great place to invest, a good growing market and great business community.”

The Wilmington, Del.-based company plans to invest between $1 million and $2 million on interior improvements in order to attract more tenants to the building, which is currently just 54.4% occupied. Those aesthetic changes will take place within the first year of ownership, Motley said.

Tommy Johnson, a vice president at Colliers International, is representing Rockford Capital Partners from a leasing standpoint. He and the investment group are already in negotiations with potential tenants, Motley said.

“We’ve got some good activity on the tenant side already,” Motley said, “and we think making a public statement to the real estate community and business community that we’re here to invest money and make this a great building will hopefully go a long way in attracting additional tenants.”

The building is just one block from the Statehouse and is surrounded by a handful of new projects revitalizing the downtown area, City-Center Partnership CEO Matt Kennell said at the time of its auction.

Arnold Companies is redeveloping the former Moe Levy’s and Howards Sports building at the corner of Lady and Assembly streets, and Aloft Hotel recently broke ground at the corner of Lady and Lincoln streets in the Vista neighborhood.

“I think very soon we’re going to be talking about Gervais, Main and Lady as the three main streets in downtown,” Kennell said. “It’s very well positioned, really well positioned. I’m confident somebody will figure that out and probably do something pretty cool with that building.”

C&K Carolina purchased the building in 2006 for $15.3 million before it went back to the lender, Maryland-based 1122 Lady Street Holdings LLC, in 2013. The sale price of that transaction was $4 million.

The property was built in 1975 and is situated on just over half an acre. It is currently just 54.4% occupied after the departure of CertusBank, according to auction documents. The bidding process was handled by Irvine, Calif.-based Auction.com.

This is the second investment Rockford Capital Partners has made in Columbia. Colliers brokered the sale of 1001 Pinnacle Point Drive to the company, but the group shortly turned around and sold the Northeast Columbia office building to another company. The original intention, however, was to lease it to tenants.

The group now plans on doing the same with its latest acquisition in downtown Columbia.

“It’s important for us. We really like the market, we like that property,” Motley said. “It was kind of underserved and underinvested in and not treated very well over the past couple years. We think our investment in this property will help create an attractive and inviting office environment that tenants enjoy and that will further the revitalization of this area.”

Reach Chris Cox at 803-726-7545 or on Twitter @chrisbcox.

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