Pacific Northwest Bellevue-based Columbia West Properties paid more than $50 million this week for two hotels in Seattle's University District...

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Real estate

Bellevue-based Columbia West Properties paid more than $50 million this week for two hotels in Seattle’s University District.

The family-run real-estate investment company bought the 7-year-old Watertown Hotel for $28.8 million and the older University Inn for $21.65 million, according to county records. Both hotels are on Roosevelt Way Northeast a few blocks north of the University Bridge and were previously owned by Nootka Hotels.

Office buildings make up most of Columbia West’s portfolio, but the company also owns the Ramada Inn in downtown Seattle, according to its Web site.

Columbia West, owned by the Foreman family, has been active recently. Last month it sold the Columbia Business Park in Bellevue’s Bel-Red area, and last week it bought the eight-story Pacific Plaza office building in downtown Bellevue.

It also is working with The Justen Co. to get permits for high-rise condo and condo/hotel towers on two properties it owns in downtown Seattle at Second Avenue and Virginia Street.

Medicine

Seattle researchers win NIH grant

The National Institutes of Health awarded the Seattle-based Institute for Systems Biology (ISB) a five-year, $14 million contract to study the immune system’s response to flulike viruses.

The contract is part of $69 million awarded to five research institutions, including the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories in Kennewick.

NIH hopes the work will lead to innovative cures for influenza, infectious diseases and potential pandemic threats such as the “bird flu” virus.

By looking at the complex way these viruses interact with the immune system, the ISB “will be able to identify drug targets and new vaccines,” said co-founder and director Alan Aderem.

The contract will lead to the hiring of about 10 people at the institute, Aderem said.

The size of the contract is on par with other big grants received by the ISB, he said.

Compiled from Seattle Times business staff