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March 13, 2015

Columbia sale could fetch tall price

Puget Sound Business Journal

Marc Stiles

For months, Seattle commercial real estate brokers have anticipated that Columbia Center, the region's tallest building, would be put up for sale.

On Tuesday Bloomberg - quoting an unnamed person "with knowledge of the matter" - reported Beacon Capital Partners is poised to put the 76-story building in downtown Seattle on the market.

Beacon's ownership of the icon has been up and down. The Boston-based company bought the tower at the height of the market and watched as the building started to empty out during the recession. Beacon came close to defaulting on its loan in 2010, when it missed a payment.

The landlord, however, turned things around, and the 1.5-million-square-foot building went from being only about two-thirds full to around 85 percent occupied today. Beacon also has upgraded the building, adding new conference and fitness facilities and making other improvements, including installing a wireless network that will improve mobile data and voice connections in the tower.

Beacon has "done a great job of repositioning and leasing up the building," Seattle commercial real estate broker Laura Ford of Colliers said Wednesday.

Now the question is what price Beacon will get if it does sell Columbia Center. Ford and Brian Hatcher, an executive vice president of Seattle-based commercial real estate company Kidder Mathews, said they're not sure what the building might fetch, though Hatcher thinks Beacon will do well.

Columbia Center "isn't a '50-yard line' [property] but it's close enough to the 50 and iconic enough in Seattle to get a very high price," he said.

For the full story, go to Puget Sound Business Journal.

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