MetLife, Clarion buy downtown Seattle tower

The joint venture between the two New York-based investment firms has purchased 1201 Third Avenue in downtown Seattle for nearly $550 million.

A joint venture between MetLife and Clarion Partners has purchased the second tallest skyscraper in Seattle. The sale represents one of the largest single office building sales of 2012 on the West Coast.

According to Clarion, the venture has acquired 1201 Third Avenue, formerly known as the Washington Mutual Tower, in downtown Seattle. The iconic art deco skyscraper was purchased from a partnership consisting of Wright Runstad & Company, Beacon Capital Partners and Shorenstein Properties. Data provider Real Capital Analytics lists the price at $548.8 million. 

Stephen Latimer, managing director and head of Clarion’s Seattle office, said in a statement: “The office market in Seattle’s central business district has demonstrated strong growth over the last several years, with demand for space focused on higher-quality properties. We expect these trends to continue.”

The 55-story office property in Seattle's business district features 1.1 million square feet of rentable office space, 33,000 square feet of retail and six below-ground levels of parking. The building currently is 77 percent occupied by tenants that include the law firms of Davis Wright Tremaine and Perkins Coie, as well as financial giant JPMorgan Chase.

“This Class A property fits very well with MetLife’s strategy of buying and holding core commercial real estate in top-tier markets,” added Mark Wilsmann, managing director and head of equity strategies for MetLife Real Estate Investors. 

1201 Third Avenue originally was developed by Wright Runstad in 1988. The Seattle-based developer has been an owner of the property since its development along with a succession of joint venture partners, culminating with Boston-based Beacon Capital and San Francisco-based Shorenstein. Wright Runstad, whose corporate offices are in the building, will continue to manage the property on behalf of the new owner after the sale.