ATLANTA (AP) _ Ted Turner announced Monday the sale of CNN Center for $170 million, almost three times what he paid for the struggling office-hotel-shopping complex when he bought it two years ago and renamed it after his Cable News Network.

The complex was purchased by 66 Properties Inc., a unit of The Herrick Co., a Morristown, N.J.-based real estate investment firm.

Turner will use the proceeds to pay down the massive debt rung up by the $1.5 billion purchase in 1986 of the MGM film library.

The deal includes 800,000 square feet in two office towers, one of which houses Turner Broadcasting Inc. headquarters and the CNN studios located on balconies in the atrium between the two buildings; the 470-room Omni International Hotel; 80,000 square feet of retail space; and an adjacent parking building with 2,000 spaces.

Turner, looking for money to reduce his debt, had announced in February that the building was for sale, and within the past few months is known to have rejected a Japanese-led syndicate's offer of $160 million.

Turner purchased the property in 1986 for $21.8 million in cash and assumption of $45 million in debt.

The deal does not include TBS' operating agreement for The Omni coliseum, adjacent to the complex.

''We're going to do whatever has to be done to make it a first-class property,'' president Norton Herrick said in a telephone interview from the buyer's Boca Raton, Fla., offices.

Turner signed a 15-year lease to remain the main tenant in the complex, which will be managed by Tishman West Management Group of Los Angeles. Turner said the deal would be closed within 60 days.

The purchase is the second major transaction this year involving a premier downtown Atlanta property.

In September, architect-developer John Portman consolidated his ownership of the six-building Peachtree Center complex for $333 million in the city's largest-ever real estate transaction.

In addition, a Japanese insurance company is believed to be near closing a $300 million deal for the IBM Tower, the city's latest showpiece skyscraper.