German investors snatched up a bit of Seattle history yesterday when Metzler North America bought most of what longtime residents will remember as the original Nordstrom building...

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German investors snatched up a bit of Seattle history yesterday when Metzler North America bought most of what longtime residents will remember as the original Nordstrom building.

Metzler paid $55.1 million on behalf of the Deutsche Immobilien Fonds for the five-story retail and office building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street. The property makes up about two-thirds of Nordstrom’s former flagship store.

The Pine Street Group bought the building from Nordstrom for $26.7 million in 1996, according to land records. The purchase was part of a complicated public-private deal to build the Pacific Place shopping center and revitalize the city’s retail center.

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The building was converted several years later after Nordstrom moved to the former Frederick & Nelson building nearby.

Today, the old Nordstrom building is home to such retailers as Coldwater Creek, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.

Metzler, which is based in Seattle, said it plans to make no changes to the building or the list of tenants.

“We plan to hold it in our portfolio for a long time,” said Jim Neal, Metzler president and chief executive.

“There is a lot of intrinsic value in a building and location that most people would argue is Main and Main streets for retail in Seattle,” he said.

Ranke Real Estate owns the remaining third of the building, while Pine Street has the right to use it. It plans to sell the property on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Pike Street in the coming months.

“There is a lot of money chasing real estate, and the fact that downtown Seattle is a healthy, vibrant place today makes it an attractive place to invest,” said Pine Street’s Matt Griffin, who is also developing Washington Mutual’s 42-story headquarters tower.

Metzler has been on a buying spree of late, spending nearly $1 billion last year on deals in Seattle, New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

The company recently bought the Fremont office campus that is home to software-maker Adobe. It also owns the office portion of downtown Seattle’s Millennium Tower.

J. Martin McOmber: 206-464-2022 or mmcomber@seattletimes.com