September 26, 2006 in Business

Worthy sells Wells Fargo tower

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Walt Worthy no longer has square feet.

With the sale Friday of the Wells Fargo tower in downtown Spokane, the Davenport Hotel owner left behind the office space business, including the well-known slogan posted on his buildings: “Walt Worthy has square feet!”

Worthy sold the 17-story, 182,000-square-foot building to Tacoma-based Prium Spokane Buildings LLC, a part of Prium Companies, for $25.7 million, according to public records. The sale included the 24,000-square-foot parking lot at 153 S. Wall St., where Prium intends to build a 90-unit, 15-story condominium tower with ground-floor retail shops.

Prium bought Worthy’s Rock Pointe office complex in November 2005 for $82.8 million. The company also owns an office building at 8517 E. Trent that it purchased from Worthy. And Prium is planning a business park on 53 acres of land the company owns near Spokane International Airport.

“One of our goals is to maintain a diverse portfolio and not have all our real estate in any one given category, such as office or condominiums,” said Pete Ansara, Prium’s chief operating officer. “We are focused on marketing and filling the Wells Fargo center with good tenants. Additionally, we are focusing our effort on beginning construction on the Wall Street site.”

The Wells Fargo building is about 60 percent occupied, with about 75,000 square feet remaining available for lease. Worthy said that space includes the top three to four floors. Since buying the former Metropolitan Mortgage and Securities building in June 2004, Worthy landed anchor tenant Wells Fargo and leased 60,000 square feet to Inland Northwest Health Services.

Worthy acquired the Wells Fargo building in lieu of foreclosure following Metropolitan’s bankruptcy filing. He bought the $12 million note on the building from its former lender for an undisclosed price. Worthy purchased the parking lot at 153 S. Wall in February for $750,000, according to Spokane County property records.

Worthy started building Rock Pointe in the mid-1980s, he said. Today it comprises four buildings with almost 600,000 square feet of office space, 2,000 parking slots and room for up to two more buildings. At one time, his company was the largest landlord for the state of Washington east of the Cascades, according to past news reports.

For now, however, Worthy said he wants to focus on his hotels — the historic Davenport Hotel and the under-construction Davenport Tower, due to open in January. Still, he seems a bit surprised by the change in his business focus.

“If you had told me I would be out of the office space business completely, I would have told you to find a good shrink,” Worthy said Monday. However, he said, “I just think this is a great time to be a seller of commercial real estate.”

Prium, evidently, thinks it’s a good time to be a buyer of commercial real estate in Spokane. Ansara said the company will begin construction at 153 S. Wall at the end of October, with hopes of finishing the building in early 2008.

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