By Jack Stubbs
Seattle-based real estate investment and development firm Unico Properties has been active in the Emerald City over the last few months, having spent a combined $359 million to acquire two Class A office properties in Seattle’s Central Business District in mid-July 2018.
And company purchased Laird Norton Properties’ ownership stake in the Stone34 Office building in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. On October 29th, the asset sold for $79.25 million, or approximately $596 per square foot, according to King County records.
The recent sale comes four years after Laird Norton Properties and Unico Properties jointly acquired Stone34 for just over $70 million. According to a media statement released by Unico Properties, the disposition of the asset comes at the right time for both companies. “Laird Norton Properties and Unico Properties LLC’s acquisition of Stone34 in 2014 signaled both firms’ commitment to a sustainable built environment and belief that an ecologically-responsible investment could also be a fiscally-sound investment,” the statement notes. “Having met their goals of maximizing value for tenants, neighbors, and partners alike while also achieving incredible sustainability success at Stone34, Laird Norton Properties has sold its ownership stake in the building.”
Unico will continue to own and manage Stone34 alongside the building’s new co-owner, Partners Group, which has invested in Stone34 on behalf of its clients.
Laird Norton Properties—who is listed in public documents as the seller of the asset—did not respond to calls for comment about the recent sale of Stone34 in time for the publishing of this story.
In addition to the office building, the recent transaction also included an underground 218-stall parking garage, according to public documents
Stone34, located at 3400 Stone Way N. in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, is a five-story, 132,923 square foot mixed-use asset with office over first-floor retail space. Over the years, the building has met various environmental sustainability achievements. Delivered in 2014 by Skanska and designed by LMN Architects, the asset in 2016 earned the distinction as the first commercially-developed building to surpass the rigorous sustainability benchmarks set by the City of Seattle’s Living Building Pilot Program, according to Unico Properties’ statement. In 2018, the Seattle 2030 District honored the building and the companies responsible for Stone34’s design, construction, and operation—Brooks Sports, Laird Norton, Skanska, and Unico—the Vision Award for Leadership.
Additionally, a design and operations review performed by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) confirmed that Stone34 surpassed its targets in energy by 15 percent and water by 27 percent, according to the web site for the property. The property has an ENERGY STAR score of 100, and also features a state-of-the-art chilled-beam mechanical system and a 65,000-gallon rainwater cistern that collects and reuses stormwater.
Originally founded in 1953, Unico Properties has developed, owned and managed commercial and multifamily assets in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Austin, as well as throughout the Western U.S. Unico currently owns and operates more than 17 million square feet of office properties, and multifamily and mixed-use assets across the Western U.S. with more than one million square feet under development as well, according to the company’s web site.
Alone with Stone34, some of the company’s other commercial properties in Seattle include 51 University, a 96,000 square foot Class B office property in Seattle’s Waterfront District; 1505 5th Avenue, an 87,822 square foot property; and 2323 Elliot, an approximately 80,300 square foot Class B property located downtown.
Unico’s official capture of the full ownership rights for Stone34 comes a couple of months after the company made several other large-scale purchases in downtown Seattle. On July 23rd, 2018, the company in partnership with Boston-based AEW Capital Management acquired 1111 Third, a 33-story office property, for $274.5 million, or approximately $485 per square foot, and 2nd & Spring for $84.5 million, or approximately $603 per square foot. The seller of both assets was Montréal, Canada-based Ivanhoé Cambridge.
Following shortly after these acquisitions, the company sold 701 Dexter—a six-story, 58,681 square foot office property—for $33.5 million, or approximately $571 per square foot, to Alexandria Real Estate Equities.