City to sell downtown building
Workers to begin moving into new complex in June
Monday, April 18, 2011
With the first wave of city staff set to move into the new City Hall in June, Vancouver has put its two-story office building near Esther Short Park on the market for $5.23 million.
The city’s asking price is based on a 2010 appraisal of the 32,034-square-foot building at 610 Esther St., General Services Manager Tim Haldeman said.
In June, Vancouver will move employees onto the third floor of its new City Hall on West Sixth Street, cater-corner to its Esther Short Building, with a full move-in set for August, he said.
The Esther Short Building is listed by Eric Fuller & Associates of Vancouver. In its advertisement, it is described as an “excellent location for corporate headquarters, general office and professional services,” and a “prime downtown Vancouver location overlooking Esther Short Park and the gateway to the new waterfront development.”
Eric Fuller & Associates, which completed a competitive bid process to become the city’s real estate firm and is in the second year of a three-year contract, will receive 5 percent of the sale of the Esther Short Building, Haldeman said.
The $5.23 million price tag on the building is a “decent” price, said Roger Qualman, executive vice president at NAI Norris Beggs & Simpson Real Estate in Vancouver.
“There is quite a bit of space available in downtown, but it’s for lease,” said Qualman, whose company is not involved in the sale. “There’s very little that’s available for sale. It’s also a popular size range.”
The building could draw a local or regional company, or an investor who might use part of the space and lease the rest. He noted the good parking, proximity to the waterfront development and good maintenance as positives for a buyer.
Vancouver has occupied the Esther Short Building since 2002 as part of a lease-to-own agreement with the National Development Council. About $5.75 million remains on that agreement, Haldeman said. The city is only obligated to pay as much as the $5.75 million balance, he said, and any proceeds in excess go to the city. If the building sells for less than $5.75 million, the difference owed to the NDC will come from the general capital fund, Vancouver Chief Finanical Officer Lloyd Tyler said.
The Esther Short Building — built in 1971, with the second floor added in 1991 — is the only one of five buildings occupied by city workers that will be sold, Haldeman said. Three additional locations are leased.
What will happen to the current City Hall at 210 E. 13th St. remains a question. The Vancouver School District owns the land on which the building sits, while Vancouver owns the vintage 1966 building. The city and school district are still in negotiations about its future, Haldeman said.
At the new City Hall, two big projects must be finished before it can open: Contractors are building the city council chambers and converting the first floor into a one-stop permit center, Haldeman said.
City employees will occupy the first through fourth floors of the building, while the fifth and sixth floors will be rented to private tenants. Financial plans show that Vancouver hopes to earn $500,000 a year in rent for the highest two floors. Several tenants already occupy part of that space.
Eric Fuller & Associates is also listing at least one available lease at City Hall: A 2,526-square-foot space for $5,984 a month.
Vancouver bought its new City Hall building in June for $18 million from Bank of America. The building at 415 W. Sixth St. was previously the home of The Columbian and was owned by Downtown Vitality Partners, a group that includes Columbian Publisher Scott Campbell. The building was forfeited to the bank in a bankruptcy settlement in early 2010; Campbell had no financial stake in the deal between the bank and the city.
Consolidating offices is expected to save the city $1 million a year, largely in reduced leasing and maintenance costs. City departments are now spread across a 10-mile area in Vancouver.
A few offices, such as police and fire headquarters, will remain in their current locations.
Just one City Hall department won’t be heading to the new building: The Domestic Violence Prosecution Center, an office shared by the city and Clark County. Instead, the center will lease a 5,703-square-foot office at 1101 Broadway. Clark County and Vancouver will split the $90,000-a-year, 10-year lease for the office.
Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.