Bank of America building adds four new tenants

Leases indicate slowly improving local market, economy

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

Downtown Vancouver's largest office tower has just welcomed a slate of new tenants, indicating the commercial real estate market has improved in line with an economy on the mend.

Nearly 30,000 square feet of vacant space has just been leased out in the Bank of America Financial Center at 805 Broadway, said Tamara Fuller, a vice president with NAI Norris Beggs & Simpson in Vancouver. "We are encouraged by seeing the activity pick up," she said.

The largest of the four new tenants in the 10-story building is the federal government's General Services Administration, which leased nearly 15,000 square feet of space on the fifth floor. Other new tenants include two financial services and investment management companies, CW Capital, which will occupy 7,300 square feet on the seventh floor, and Wells Fargo Advisors, new occupant of another 3,500 square feet on the same floor. Tech firm Occuscreen rounds out the list with 3,400 square feet on the second floor.

"We're really trying to focus on the remaining 20,000 square feet on the third floor, said Josh Schlesinger, vice president and asset manager of Schlesinger Companies, which owns the building.

He said the third-floor vacancy is the largest remaining space in the 275,000-square-foot building, which is anchored by ground-floor tenant Bank of America and offers access to valet and on-site parking.

Schlesinger considers the downtown leasing activity an indication of business health and company commitment. For example, Apple Inc. and AHA! in July announced plans to take up more space in the top two commercial floors of the downtown city hall building at 401 W. Sixth St. In August, Olympia-based Heritage Bank announced plans to open a seventh-floor regional headquarters in Vancouver's downtown Vancouvercenter at the corner of Eighth and Washington streets.

Companies that had been postponing such expansions are now starting to shake off the fragile economy, Schlesinger said.

"During the time of uncertainty, it was difficult to make a commitment, he said. "What we're seeing now is companies are willing to make those decisions and move forward with those plans."

Green retrofit

Schlesinger Companies has recently invested in upgrades to the building, replacing flooring and paint with organic compound materials that emit very low levels of harmful fumes. New lighting has made the building more energy efficient as well, said Schlesinger, whose family has owned the building for three decades.

Schlesinger said his grandfather, Ralph Schlesinger, developed the building in 1982 as a partnership with Pacific Telecom, which was a building tenant.

In 2007, Schlesinger Cos. purchased the other half of the 275,000-square-foot structure for an undisclosed amount from Louisiana-based CenturyTel, a longtime tenant. The building has an assessed value of $21.5 million for 2013 property taxes, according to the Clark County Department of Assessment.