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vacant Greensboro office tower still being examine

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Wachovia building still being examined



GREENSBORO -- More than 2-1/2 months after announcing it had contracted to buy the vacant 15-story Wachovia building downtown and renovate it, a Raleigh developer is still studying the feasibility of redeveloping the building.

Cherokee Investment Properties said in early August that it had agreed to buy the 220,000-square-foot building at North Elm Street and Friendly Avenue from Jefferson-Pilot Corp. and would look at its potential for conversion to commercial and residential space. Thomas Darden, Cherokee's chief executive, estimated the company would decide in 90 days whether to complete the deal.

On Monday, a company spokesman said Cherokee was still studying the building. He could not say when a decision on proceeding with the acquisition would be made.

"The parties are continuing to analyze and discuss the transaction," said Tom Watkins, a Greensboro lawyer representing Cherokee in the transaction. "They're continuing to look at possibilities and continuing to study the feasibility from every conceivable standpoint. Everybody would like to see this work. It's a major project, and these things take time."

Watkins declined to provide details about the discussions.

In August, Darden said Cherokee would be looking carefully at the demand for residential housing, office and retail space downtown. The developer wanted to determine how fast the building would fill up and what occupants would be willing to pay for space in it.

Darden estimated it could cost at least $20 million to buy and refurbish the building. News that the building, vacant for more than a decade, had attracted a serious buyer heartened economic developers who see a thriving downtown as crucial to attracting jobs and improving the city's slumping economy.

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