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Florida Group Purchasing United Founders Life Tower

Stacy Smith Martin Published: April 22, 1989

United Founders Life Tower, 5900 Mosteller Drive, will be sold Monday to a Gainesville, Fla. limited partnership for about $2.5 million, a member of the buyer's group said Friday.

The new owner will be Growth Fund International Ltd., a U.S./Swedish investment group led by Gainesville investor Ernest Tew. The principal Swedish investors are Inge Pettersson and Claes Johansson.

The seller is Protective Life Insurance Corp., parent company of United Founders Life Insurance Co. Protective acquired the property through a 1986 foreclosure action.

Set to close at 10 a.m. Monday, the deal is a cash transaction, Ernest Tew said. The deal includes the adjoining building housing Queen Ann Cafeteria and 7.4 acres of surrounding land.

Including land, the sales price figures about $12.50 a square foot.

Tew said the sales price is a bargain, even in a depressed economy. He said he believes he got the building for about 15 percent of its construction cost.

The last time the tower sold, it went for $12 million, he said. That was in 1981.

Local representatives in Monday's sale include Carl Pojezny and attorney Bob Morgan for the buyer and Les Hathcock and Tom Blanton of D.J. Blanton Co., listing brokers.

Growth Fund is among a network of real estate partnerships headed by Tew, president of Equity General Corp. He said he is looking for other commercial real estate investments in Oklahoma.

"I feel like Oklahoma currently offers the best opportunities that I have encountered in my 28 years in the business," Tew said. "That's why we're here. The flip side of a problem is an opportunity, if you can solve it.

"If you own it free and clear, as we will, everything else being equal, you eliminate 90 percent of the risk."

The 20-story, 200,000-square-foot tower was built about 25 years ago by United Founders Life Insurance Co., a local company later acquired by Protective Life Insurance Corp., Birmingham, Ala. Protective acquired the tower in the transaction.

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