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Downtown Prime

A primer on the state’s largest downtown, high-rise office buildings

The AmSouth Harbert Plaza (now Regions Harbert Plaza) was completed in 1989, just three years after The SouthTrust Tower.

The AmSouth Harbert Plaza (now Regions Harbert Plaza) was completed in 1989, just three years after The SouthTrust Tower.

Alabama is not the land of skyscrapers, but it does have a nice collection of downtown high-rise office buildings worth knowing. Perhaps they should be the subject of a local guessing game, such as our monthly feature “Where in Alabama?”

As a business resource, you’ll want to know the prices these buildings are asking and what their occupancy rate says for the city’s market for prime office space. And we’ll detail amenities that make these some of our state’s most preferred corporate dwellings.

Regions Harbert Plaza

1901 6th Ave. N.  //  Birmingham

Total leasable square feet: 613,764
Stories: 32
Height: 437 feet
Owner: S.L. Regions LLC
Top floor: The Summit Club
Built: 1989
Previous names: AmSouth Harbert Plaza
General contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie Inc.
Designing architect: Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum
Interior designer architect of common spaces: Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum
Lobby: granite and marble
Public spaces: The property contains a 44,000-square-foot retail shopping center and food court housed in two floors.
Streetscape: “The plaza and building were designed with the surrounding area and its architecture in mind,” says Jon Jett, director of operations with Harbert Realty Services. “The building’s rooftop, for example, is indicative of nearby roofs of churches and houses.”
What’s remarkable? Regions Harbert’s nickname is “Center of the City” because it is. “We are convenient to everything,” notes Jett. “Shopping, hospitals and government centers are nearby.” Jett adds, “We are more than an office building. This is the hub of Birmingham.”
Percentage currently leased: 98%
Total square feet available for lease: 8,636
Price per square foot: $24.50
Leasing agent: Dean Nix, Harbert Realty Services, Birmingham

Montgomery’s RSA Tower is embedded with displays of state history, from Native Americans to Paul Bryant. 

RSA Tower Complex

201 Monroe St.  //  Montgomery

Total leasable square feet: 613,660 in main complex
Stories: 23
Owner: Retirement Systems of Alabama
Top Floor: Raycom Media and the Capital City Club
Built: 1997
General contractor: Huber Hunt and Nichols
Architect: PH&J Architects Inc.
Interior design architect of common spaces: PH&J, architects and John Gandy, designer
Lobby: Polished steel revolving doors welcome visitors and tenants to this Monroe St. property. It has a classic New York City feel, framed by massive charcoal gray columns and walls of dark wood paneling.
Public Spaces: An art gallery, barber shop, hair salon, gift shop, Chick-fil-A and vending
Streetscape fit: The property blends into RSA’s Pavilion Park, across the street, featuring monuments and displays telling Montgomery’s history. The park is a favorite spot for outdoor coffee breaks.
What’s remarkable? The RSA Tower Complex is a 23-story monument to the Alabama story. Displays throughout the building explain the state’s key figures, from Native Americans to Paul Bryant.
Percentage currently leased: 94%
Total square feet available for lease: Less than 24,500
Price per square foot: $18 - $26
Leasing agent: Joe Toole, RSA Leasing Office, Montgomery

The Wells Fargo Tower sports a signature Birmingham pinnacle and one of the most striking lobbies among Alabama buildings.

Wells Fargo Tower

420 N. 20th St.  //  Birmingham

Total leasable square feet: 514,893
Stories: 34
Total height: 454 feet
Owner: Commonwealth REIT
Top floor: Burr & Forman
Built: 1986
Previous names: SouthTrust Tower, Wachovia Tower
General contractor: Brice Building Co.
Architect: Skidmore, Owings Merrill LLP and Giattina Fisher and Associates
Last major renovation: 2005 to 2006
Lobby: Visitors enter through a two-story atrium with 20-foot glass wall panels, marble columns and cherry accents. “I think it’s the most striking lobby in Birmingham,” says leasing agent John Hennessy.
Public Spaces: The tower has two spaces reserved for restaurants and retail shops, which it is currently pursuing.
Streetscape fit: Big does not mean obtrusive. The skyscraper blends architecturally with other skyscrapers, side by side, along the 20th Street business district.
What’s remarkable?“The tower is instantly recognizable in Birmingham’s landscape. And it is the most unique,” says Hennessy. “The architecture, glass, marble and wood offers a sleek modern office complex with elegance.”
Percentage currently leased: 80%
Total square feet available for lease: 106,757
Price per square foot: $22
Leasing agent: John Hennessy, Colliers International, Birmingham 

“It’s a great place to look down at thunderstorms,” says RSA spokesperson Amanda Vaughn.

RSA Battle House Tower

11 North Water St.  //  Mobile

Owner: Retirement Systems of Alabama
Total leasable square feet: 466,684
Stories: 35
Height: 740 feet, tallest in Alabama
Top floor: American Equity Underwriters Inc.
Built: 2006
General building contractor: Archer-Western; White-Spunner
Designing architect: TVS & Associates
Interior designer of common spaces: Beth Adams, director of interior design, RSA
Lobby: Steel and glass of the tower sit side by side with the city’s antebellum gem, the Battle House Hotel.
Other public spaces: Gift shop, restaurants, health club and bank.
Streetscape: Since first opening, the RSA Tower has become Mobile’s signature skyscraper, and its steeple top has inspired similar touches on neighboring buildings.
What’s remarkable? Tower lighting changes colors to celebrate holidays with lights visible 30 miles out on Mobile Bay.
Percentage currently leased: 93%
Total square feet available for lease: 30,000
Price per square foot: $18 - $22
Leasing agent: Joe Toole, RSA Leasing Office, Montgomery

Banking, medical research and government tenants reflect a cross-section of Birmingham commerce.

Financial Center

505 20 St. N.  //  Birmingham

Owner: Allegiance Realty Corp.
Stories: 17
Top floor:  law firm Christian & Small LLP
Total height: 215 feet
Year built: 1982
General contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie Inc.
Architect / designer: Giattina, Kirkwood & Partners Architects Inc.
Last major renovation: In progress. New owners (since July 2013) Allegiance Realty Corp. are investing more than $3 million on capital improvements and renovations, including modernization of all building elevators, the main floor lobby, and newly decorated elevator floor lobbies.
Lobby: Planned renovation will feature a new glass entry, contemporary finishes and updated architectural details and lighting.
Streetscape fit: It is a choice location for banking professionals, medical research and government-related entities. The property’s landscaping has been replaced with new sod and shrubbery that better highlight the entryways.
What’s remarkable? The Financial Center is located in the heart of Birmingham’s business district.
Total leasable square feet: 311,201
Percentage currently leased: 70%
Total square feet available for lease: 100,000
Price per square foot: $20
Leasing agent: Hurston Raley, C&W EGS Commercial Real Estate, Birmingham

With carnival colors and themes year round, Trustmark is Mobile’s tribute to Mardi Gras and the only building on our list with a 12-foot electric moon pie.

Photo by Matt Coughlin

RSA Trustmark Building

107 St. Francis St.  //  Mobile

Owner: RSA
Total leasable square feet: 279,418
Stories: 34
Height: 424 feet
Top floor: vacant
Built: 1965
Previous names: First National Bank Building, AmSouth Building, RSA BankTrust Building
General contractor: Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood completed revisions.
Architect: Original architect not known. Tracy Basset completed lobby renovations.
Last major renovations: 2013. A $50-million renovation from top to bottom. “Our goal was two-fold,” said architect Tracy Basset, in a Business Alabama interview, “gut and restore.”
Interior design architect of common spaces: Tracy Basset.
Lobby: Mobile’s Carnival colors dominate the first floor with a Mardi Gras mural composed of thousands of parade beads.
Other public spaces: Pollman’s Bakery
Streetscape Fit: “We strived to honor Mardi Gras and its birthplace, Mobile,” says Joe Toole, leasing agent.
What’s remarkable? TrustMark receives national attention on New Year’s Eve, when its 12-feet diameter moon pie descends the entire height of the building.
Percentage currently leased: 65%
Total square feet available for lease: 96,000
Price per square foot: $16.75 - $18.50
Leasing agent: Joe Toole, RSA Leasing Office, Montgomery

Architectural details of the Alabama Center for Commerce include marble salvaged during renovation of the State Capitol.

Alabama Center for Commerce

401 Adams St.  //  Montgomery

Owner: RSA
Stories tall: 7
Top floor: Trustmark Bank
Built: 1991
General contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie
Architect: PH&J Architects Inc.
Lobby: A four-story tall display of flags represents the 80 or more countries that do business with the State of Alabama.
Public Spaces: Commerce Center Cafeteria
Streetscape fit: The ACC blends its grounds with trees and shrubbery with the surrounding neighborhood. A Montgomery landmark, the building is a business with a residential comfortable feel, says RSA’s Joe Toole.
Interior design architect of common spaces: PH&J, architects and John Gandy, Montgomery designer.
What’s remarkable? With a backdrop of national flags and stately white marble, the ACC Commerce Hall is often used for state and local presentations and news conferences. One wall of Commerce Hall is 1927-quarried white marble discarded from the State Capitol Building and salvaged by RSA.
Total leasable square feet: 235,585
Percentage currently leased: 98.9%
Total square feet available for lease: 4,700
Price per square foot: $16.25 to $21.00
Leasing agent: Joe Toole, RSA Leasing Office, Montgomery

Photo by Dennis Keim

Regions Center

200 Clinton Ave. West  //  Huntsville

Owner: BR Cummings Research Park Portfolio III
Stories:  11
Height: 165 feet
Top floor:  Bradley Arant Boult Cummings
Built: 1991
Previous name: Colonial AmSouth Center
General building contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie Inc.
Designing architect: Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates
Lobby: Regions dominates the floor, in a setting of marble and glass.
Streetscape fit: The Regions Center design is as unique as its Old South city that test fires missiles. It is a postmodern blend of stucco, huge glass panels, concrete and steel that rises above Clinton Avenue like a launch pad rocket.
What’s remarkable? “This is the tallest building in Huntsville,” says Randy Thomas, leasing agent. “The pinnacle, lighted at night, is a fixture of Huntsville’s skyline.”
Total leasable square feet: 154,297
Total square feet available for lease: 12,000
Price per square foot: $20
Leasing agent: Randy Thomas, Colliers International, Huntsville

Photo by Matthew Coughlin

Regions Bank Building

56 St. Joseph St.  //  Mobile

Owner: Sooner Management
Stories: 18
Height: 236 feet
Top Floor: Leasing agent, Josh Hall
Built: 1929
Previous names: Merchants National Bank Building, First Alabama Bank Building
General Contractor who built it: Graham, Anderson, Probst & White
Architect: Graham, Anderson, Probst & White
Last Major Renovation: 1986
Lobby: Brass fixtures and elevator doors, marble floors, some original furnishings, even the brass mail drop have been here since opening day.
Public spaces: The lobby has an interesting display of decades-old ledgers and banking equipment.
Streetscape: The Regions Bank Building, circa 1929, was here first. The rest of Mobile’s streetscape was built around it.
What’s remarkable? It is a history scavenger hunt.  Furniture and fixtures throughout the facility may be brand new or they may be 84 years old.
Total leasable square feet: 180,000
Percentage currently leased: 80 to 85%
Total square feet available for lease: 20%
Price per square foot: $14
Leasing Agent: Josh Hall, Sooner Management, Mobile

Photo by Matthew Coughlin

Wells Fargo Bank Building

61 St. Joseph St.  //  Mobile

Owner: WaterSouth Associates
Stories: 16
Height: 231 feet
Top floor:  Brady Radcliff & Brown
Built: 1947
Previous names: Waterman Building, SouthTrust Bank Building, Wachovia Building
General contractor: J.P. Ewan
Architect: Plat Roberts, Benson & Long and Paul Phillipe
Last major renovation: Refurbishing of floors 1, 4, 6 and 7 is in progress.
Lobby:  The ceiling displays heavenly constellations while wall murals tell the history of Mobile commerce. Waterman Co. delayed the building’s opening a year to allow Conrad Albrizio to complete his work. In the meantime, Mobilians would visit and watch Albrizio, flat on his back on scaffolding, like Michelangelo at work on the Sistine Chapel.
Streetscape:  This building and the neighboring Regions Center defined Mobile’s skyline
What’s remarkable? The revolving 12-foot Waterman globe that once graced the lobby is now housed at the University of South Alabama.
Total leasable square feet: 64,000
Percentage currently leased: 72%
Total square feet available: 21,000
Price per square foot: $14 - $15
Leasing agent: Jill Meeks, John Toomey Co., Mobile

Emmett Burnett is a freelance writer for Business Alabama. He lives in Satsuma.

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