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September 27, 2014

Portland investors buy Main Place

The Columbian

Gordon Oliver

One of downtown's most recognizable buildings, the black glass box known as Main Place, has been purchased by a prominent Portland investment firm that is making its first major plunge into Vancouver real estate.

Jordan Menashe, a second-generation family investor in Menashe Properties, couldn't be more excited. The 27-year-old son of company founder Barry Menashe is cutting his teeth in the family business with the $12.15 million deal that's scheduled to close Tuesday.

"It's the first transaction I've done from start to finish," said Menashe, who has worked for his father for four years and who's eager to lead the company's expansion beyond Portland and its Oregon suburbs.

The building at 1111 Main St., constructed in 1991, contains nearly 88,000 square feet of leasable space on seven floors. The purchase deal includes the 230-space parking structure north of the building, on the same block as Main Place, which was valued at $1.2 million. The building's Class A office space is 80 percent occupied, and the Holland Partner Group, a West Coast developer of multifamily housing, is the largest tenant with 25,000 square feet on 2 1/2 floors.

The building is being sold by Main Place Limited Partnership, which was represented by Richard Gress of Realvest Corp., the parent real estate company. Gress said the investor owners had considered selling the property but had not listed it when they were approached by the Menashe Group. Realvest owns about 2,000 multifamily units and Main Place was its last commercial property. The sale was "purely a strategic move on our part," Gress said. Realvest will continue to manage the building for the Menashe Group, he said.

Jordan Menashe said he'd hoped to complete the transaction several months ago. But the deal hit a snag when BergerABAM, which had been one of Main Place's largest tenants, decided to relocate to the former City Hall at 210 E. 13th St., now called Block 56, effective Oct. 1. The company had occupied about 10 percent of Main Place.

BergerABAM's departure led to a price reduction from $12.5 million to the final $12.15 million sale price for the building and parking, said Josh Schwartz, a broker for Kidder Mathews who represented both parties. That's about $126 per square foot when the parking is removed from the equation, Gress said. It's a considerably lower per-square-foot price than other recent commercial building transactions. The city of Vancouver, for instance, sold the 32,000-square-foot Esther Short building, at 601 Esther St., in October for $5.1 million, or $159 per square foot.

Commercial broker Eric Fuller of Eric Fuller & Associates said commercial properties comparable to Main Place could fetch $175 to $225 per square foot in today's market. Gress said the price reduction due to the loss of BergerABAM as a tenant helps explain the sale price that's below that range.

Fuller said he welcomed Menashe's entry into the Vancouver commercial market, noting that other Portland-based property investors have also made recent purchases here. Menashe has invested in downtown Portland and suburban commercial properties for about 25 years.

"There is no question in my mind that this is value added to our business district," Fuller said. "It definitely supports the idea that Vancouver real estate is a good investment."

Jordan Menashe said he likes the changes he's seeing in downtown, with more restaurants and bars, and arts district activities.

"I'm a very large believer in the future and present of Vancouver," he said. For his company, "the building made excellent sense. It's extremely well-located and is a timeless-looking building with the black glass."

Menashe said he wants to become a visible player in community and civic activities.

"I'm definitely here to try to do something special," he said.

For the full story, go to The Columbian .

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