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Wells Fargo Building goes to INHS in foreclosure sale after Prium bankruptcy; Holley Mason also sold

Two of Spokane’s well-known but cash-strapped buildings concluded foreclosure sales Friday, shutting the file on separate cases of large commercial properties falling victim to a distressed real estate market.

The 17-story Wells Fargo Tower at 601 W. First and the six-level Holley Mason Building at 157 S. Howard both formally changed hands, culminating bank repossessions after the previous owners were unable to pay off loans.

Spokane’s Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) took over about three-fourths of the Wells Fargo building; in 2009 it acquired roughly one-fourth of the building when previous owner Prium Spokane Buildings LLC sold that space for $9.4 million.

At Friday’s sale INHS officially took over the remainder of Prium’s 184,000-square-foot tower for roughly $16.1 million, said John Craig, INHS chief financial officer. Prium, based in Tacoma, did not respond to phone calls seeking comment.

Chris Bell, of NAI Black, represented INHS in the deal.

INHS has about 1,000 employees across the region, with 350 to 400 working in the Wells Fargo building.

Prium bought the building from Spokane developer Walt Worthy for $25 million in 2006. The bank that ended up with the mortgage was Spokane-based Sterling Savings.

Prium Spokane Buildings, a division of Tacoma-based Prium Companies, filed for bankruptcy in late 2010.

INHS is an independent medical services provider that works with area hospitals and providers as well as running the St. Luke’s Rehab Center and other services. It was formed in 1994.

Craig said the INHS board has no plans to sell the Wells Fargo building or portions of it in the near future. Since 2006 INHS has been using the building and is its current largest tenant.

The second largest tenant is Wells Fargo Bank, said Craig. He said Wells Fargo has a naming-rights provision, meaning there will be no change in the building’s name.

The Wells Fargo Tower was originally the Farm Credit Bank Building, constructed in the early 1980s.

In 1998 Metropolitan Mortgage and Securities CEO Paul Sandifur bought the bank building for $11.7 million and used it for his company’s base of operations. The once-high flying company stayed there until mounting debt and angry investors forced Metropolitan to file for bankruptcy in 2004.

A year later Spokane developer Walt Worthy bought the building and renamed it the Wells Fargo Tower after signing Wells Fargo as the anchor tenant.

In addition to the sale of the Wells Fargo, Worthy had a previous Spokane deal with Prium. In 2005 he sold the Rock Pointe Commercial Center north of downtown to Prium for roughly $82 million.

While still in bankruptcy, creditors and Prium continue to wrangle over the Rock Pointe assets, looking for a buyer who would want some or all of the distressed assets of that set of three commercial buildings

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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.