For years, a well-known sign has advertised space for lease at the Rock Pointe office complex just north of downtown Spokane. It reads: “Walt Worthy Has Square Feet!”
Now, that sign is coming down because Worthy just closed on a deal to sell Rock Pointe to a Tacoma real estate firm for $82.8 million. The property comprises four buildings, almost 600,000 square feet of office space, 2,000 parking spaces and room for up to two more buildings. Worthy, who also owns downtown Spokane’s Davenport Hotel and Wells Fargo building, sold Rock Pointe to Prium Companies of Tacoma on Nov. 21.
“I had somebody that wanted to buy it,” Worthy said of the office complex he started building in 1986. “These people came to us.”
Prium, owned by Tom Price and Hyun Um, is a commercial and residential land development, property management, and construction services firm. The company also owns an office building at 8517 E. Trent, which it purchased from Worthy a few years ago.
“We already had established a relationship. That made buying Rock Pointe a viable option for us,” said Pete Ansara, Prium’s chief operating officer. Ansara said Prium does not plan any big changes at Rock Pointe, which is about 95 percent occupied. The property also has room for up to 300,000 square feet of additional space, Worthy said. Ansara said Prium has no immediate plans to build there, however.
The purchase price raised some eyebrows among commercial real estate professionals in Spokane.
“In terms of the size of the deal, it’s almost unheard of in Spokane,” said Dave Black, CEO of Tomlinson Black Commercial. “We don’t hear of $80 million deals every day. I think Spokane in general has been discovered, not only by people that want to live here, but by investment capital as well, and I think that’s a good thing for Spokane.”
Black said after the stock market stumbled in the early 2000s, many investors turned to real estate. That’s created competition for quality properties, which has helped bring outside investors to Spokane, he said.
“There’s a lot of money chasing real estate these days,” Black said. “People are not expecting to get as good a return as they used to because the alternative investment returns have gone down.”
Also contributing to a sale of that magnitude, said commercial appraiser Scot Auble, is Worthy’s solid reputation.
“It’s a great property that’s always performed really well and he has a great reputation as a property manager,” Auble said. “For that reason, it’s going to be attractive to large, out-of-town investors.”
Worthy said he and his wife, Karen, will use some of the proceeds to pay off the 17-story Wells Fargo tower, formerly the Metropolitan Financial Center, which they bought for an undisclosed sum last summer. He joked that he also planned to move his “Walt Worthy Has Square Feet!” sign to that building.
A large portion of the proceeds also will be used to build the 18-story Davenport Tower and Residences, a hotel under construction at the corner of First and Post, just across the street from the Davenport. The 320- to 340-room hotel will include a five-story parking garage behind it and the upper floors will offer suites available to rent for months at a time. The lower floors will have standard hotel rooms.
“We’re just really enjoying the hotel business,” Worthy said.