Home Commercial Columbia Trust Co. Spends $9.3MM to Acquire the Moses Building in Seattle’s...

Columbia Trust Co. Spends $9.3MM to Acquire the Moses Building in Seattle’s Pioneer Square

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By Vladimir Bosanac

A remnant of an era past in the heart of Pioneer Square has traded hands. The Moses Building, a 22,484 square-foot building that was originally constructed 1889, was purchased this month by Columbia Trust Co. for $9,252,886, or just over $411 per square foot, according to King County records. The seller was an entity called Zoltar Holdings, which is associated with Chris Millar, CEO of Fun Bits Interactive. Zoltar had purchased the property in June of 2014 for $5.5 million, according to public records.

The Moses Building is located on the east side of 2nd Avenue South between South Main Street and South Jackson Street. Originally constructed in 1889, the three-story brick and beam building with a lower level consists of 22,484 square feet, according to a marketing document from JLL, which worked on the sale of the asset. Since 2007, the building underwent a major renovation of approximately $5.1 million, the document stated, which consisted of a seismic upgrade, interior renovations that included the installation of braced steel framing and a passenger elevator. A new roof was also installed in 2013.

The property is fully leased with five tenants, although the basement level provides an nearly 6,000 square feet of additional space that may also be leased in the future. The current rents are around 10 percent below market levels, according to the marketing document, which could allow Columbia Trust to increase its net cash flow as the leases roll. Today’s in-place income is over $400,000.

The original building was designed by the father-son team Thompson and Thompson. By 1905, the building was known as the Sartori Building and continued to be known as the Sartori Building at least until 1912, according to a Seattle.gov page dedicated to this property. As originally built, the building was five stories in height and lost its top two floors as a result of the 1949 Earthquake, which damaged or destroyed the cornices and/or top floors of many buildings in the Pioneer Square area. Even though the building has lost its top floors, the composition and detailing of the building are striking. The amount of rusticated stone at the first two levels and the openness of the façade are somewhat unique. Also, on closer inspection, the building has some interesting ornament, including the carved lions’ heads. Despite the loss of upper floors, the building retains a significant amount of its architectural integrity and detailing.

Columbia Trust Co. is a 50-year old trust and investment management company with offices in Portland and Salem, Oregon, as well as Tacoma and Vancouver, Washington and Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. The buyer was not available for comment prior to this publishing.

The JLL team was represented by Stuart Williams and Lori Hill.