Building back on market

Real estate: Owners of former Capitol Center renew search for tenants

July 8, 2009 

OLYMPIA – The effort to lease the nine-story building that overlooks Capitol Lake has been kick-started back to life now that the city has dropped its plan to acquire the property, a co-owner of the building and a commercial real estate broker said Tuesday.

Today, the downtown building, which was built in 1965, is being marketed as Viewpoint Tower, but it was previously known as the Capitol Center building. It has been vacant for more than two years and last was occupied by the state Department of Corrections.

Building co-owner Jim Potter of Snohomish and Troy Dana, managing director of the Olympia office of Colliers International, said Tuesday that they are once again marketing the building for potential users after that effort was put on hold for about four months. Potter said his new goal is to have a tenant in the building by next June.

“We need to create some certainty and get people actually moving in,” he said.

Potter has owned the building since 2005 with two different ownership groups. The first group paid $11.9 million for the building and the current ownership group, known as The Views on Fifth Ave. Ltd., met Tuesday morning and will meet again in the coming weeks as it ramps up marketing of the building, he said.

As part of the marketing process, two open houses were held in November and January to showcase the property.

That attracted interest from several potential tenants, some of whom showed an interest in occupying up to three floors, Dana said.

In March, though, Olympia Mayor Doug Mah announced a proposal to raise property taxes so that the city could acquire the building as part of an effort to build a park on the isthmus. Viewpoint Tower’s owners responded by sending a letter to the city saying they would be willing to sell and demolish the building and its annex for $16.5 million. Then Mah called off his plan last week, telling The Olympian, in part, that he had concerns about the economy and a lack of support from advocates for an isthmus park.

“I think it was the right property, the right vision, the right compromise for the area, but occurring at the wrong time,” Mah said. Mah was expected to formally announce his decision at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Potter said that as soon as the mayor announced his plan in March, it became harder to market the building and that the owners lost some potential customers. Although he will consider an offer to purchase the building, Potter said it is “exclusively for lease.”

Colliers broker Larry Gilliam, leasing agent for the building, said Mah contacted him last Friday.

“He wished us well going forward to lease the building and that was about it,” Gilliam said.

Dana thinks it is a missed opportunity for the city because once the building has tenants, it becomes only more expensive to remove or buy out existing leaseholders.

“I still believe today that this is an amazing small window of opportunity for the city because the building is sitting empty,” he said. “Once it’s full, it may never be as economically viable for the city to acquire.”

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

rboone@theolympian.com

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