Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Private tenants in county’s Bank of America tower moving

In a decade, a tower of prosecutors will face a tower of defense attorneys across Stone Avenue.

The blue Legal Services Building already houses prosecutors, and now that Pima County owns the 22-story Bank of America Plaza, county defense attorneys will filter into the building over the next few years.

The Bank of America building is the second tallest in town and Legal Services is No. 3. The 220,000-square-foot Bank of America structure is the second largest county-owned building behind the 230,000-square-foot Superior Courts building.

Pima County on May 1 closed on its $24.1 million purchase of the Bank of America Plaza, which will retain its name because the bank is at the beginning of a 10-year lease that includes naming rights, said Mike Tuinstra, the county’s director of facilities management.

Most of the 39 leases in the Bank of America building are on four- or five-year contracts, which will probably not be renewed. But options, usually for one year, will be honored, Tuinstra said.

“I would imagine it will be” fully occupied by county employees in four to five years, Tuinstra said.

The Bank of America Plaza, built in 1977, was 40 percent empty when the county announced its intention to buy the building in November. This included the pending departure of the Chandler & Udall law firm, which cleared out of the 21st and 22st floors in December.

Other tenants plan to leave before their leases expire, in part because clients have said they don’t want to share elevators with passengers in shackles heading to see a public defender.

“Because of the nature of their business, clients don’t want to come to our office anymore,” said Al Wynant, owner of A6 Consultants, an events management company that moved into the tower one year ago. “We need a bigger space. We were going to move into our neighbor’s space.”

Instead A6 is moving to the Williams Centre, 201 S. Williams Blvd., in June.

The Slutes, Sakrison & Hill law firm has 3 1/2 years remaining on its lease for two-thirds of the 10th floor, but it will likely move out before then. The firm has been in the building since it opened 30 years ago, partner Jim Sakrison said.

“We’ll probably locate out of downtown,” Sakrison said. “I hate to see downtown become nothing but a government center.”

The Public Defender’s Office will move into the recently vacated 21st and 22nd floors soon. Information Technology will get the 17th floor and the Capital Improvement Program will get the seventh floor, Tuinstra said.

The county’s Economic Development and Tourism Department and its Environmental Quality Department will also be in the Bank of America building.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is a bit more circumspect about the fate of present tenants.

“It they want to renew their leases, we will check and see if it fits in our schedule,” Huckelberry said. “We will ultimately grow into the building.”

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