Chapel Hill’s Greenbridge development sold to new owners

Greenbridge has sat mostly empty and mired in financial troubles since April, when Bank of America started the development’s foreclosure process.

But after two foreclosure sale delays and five months, the bank has sold the property to a group of investors — and town officials say they hope new owners could mean a new chance for Greenbridge’s success.

Invesco, Ltd. announced in a press release Sept. 29 that two of its subsidiaries had joined two other firms to purchase 29 loans spread through 16 states from Bank of America.

Shirley Norton, spokeswoman for Bank of America, wrote in an email that the bank no longer owns the Greenbridge property and that it had been part of the Invesco purchase.

“It’s a great relief,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. He said he hopes that soon the development will attract businesses and residents to downtown, rather than sitting vacant.

Before the first foreclosure date was set in March, fewer than half of the development’s 97 condominiums had sold and developers owed $28.7 million in loans to the bank.

The mixed-use development, located at 601 W. Rosemary St., has two towers and houses offices, retail space and luxury condominiums.

Town officials have blamed the down economy for its struggles in the past — the building’s condominiums are for-sale only and range to upwards of $1 million per unit.

All of the building’s 15 affordable units, which cost around $100,000, have sold.

The investors, which included WL Ross & Co., Invesco Advisers, Inc., Square Mile Capital Management and the Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, made $880 million in total purchases from the bank, according to the press release.

Bill Hensel, spokesman for Invesco, said he was unsure how much of that total came from the Greenbridge loans and how many of the 29 loans were related to the Greenbridge property.

Dwight Bassett, town economic officer, said the property’s sale will stabilize Chapel Hill’s real estate market.

“An interruption in ownership rights of a property always hinders its ability to succeed,” he said.

Bassett explained that a property owner going through foreclosure cannot lease or sell units, which meant that Greenbridge developers couldn’t sell to new tenants while embroiled in bank troubles.

Bassett said the sale will offer an alternative to urban sprawl if people choose to live in the high-density development.

But he said most importantly, it will bring business to Chapel Hill.

“That will be 100 new people living in downtown, and that’s a really important component,” he said.

He said that the ability to add offices and retail will also help the downtown economy.

Bassett and Kleinschmidt met with developers and investors earlier this summer to try to encourage a sale, but have not been involved in the recent negotiations.

But he said the town remained confident that the building would sell.

“Most people realized that it would get a new owner,” Bassett said.

Kleinschmidt and Bassett both said that they and the town have not heard from the new buyers, but they will be willing to help them succeed going forward.

“The town will continue to be engaged with Greenbridge and other property owners as we try to get through our down economy,” Kleinschmidt said.

Contact the City Editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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