A South Korean investment group will buy a 95% stake in a newly opened 38-story office tower downtown for $669 million, developer Skanska announced Tuesday. 

Hana Alternative Asset Management and Hana Financial Group will buy control of the 2+U building at Second Avenue and University Street. The Swedish development company Skanska will hold on to a 5% stake as it continues leasing out retail space on the lower floors.

Skanska, which finished the project last year, believes the sale is the biggest real estate transaction for a single property in the United States since the start of the pandemic.

Murphy McCullough, Skanska’s executive vice president for the Seattle market, said in an interview the sale signals interest in the core of the city, even as the pandemic has quieted much of downtown.

“Investors in general look past exactly what’s happening right now .… Folks are going to be coming back to the cultural center of the city, which is downtown and where all the amenities are,” McCullough said.

After years of rapid office development in downtown and South Lake Union, COVID-19 brought an abrupt turnaround: Office towers this year sat empty and the prices for office buildings fell.

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At the Second Avenue building, employees of the office tenants are working from home, while retailers are waiting to open until the pandemic subsides, McCullough said.

Dropbox, Indeed.com and others have already agreed to lease in the building. Seattle’s Valiant Barber & Supply plans to open in a ground-floor space, and a California-based office design company will lease retail space to open next summer. 

Restaurateur Ethan Stowell planned to open a new location of his Italian restaurant Tavolàta in the building, but postponed its opening. Skanska offered some rent deferrals for retail tenants, McCullough said.

About half of the retail space has been leased, according to Skanska.

With the building lifted off the ground to create outdoor retail space below, the developer bills the project as “a connection linking the new waterfront, Pioneer Square and surrounding downtown neighborhoods.” 

The office tower advertises a rooftop deck, yoga studio and views of the Olympics. The building includes a 466-space underground parking garage, according to county records. 

Skanska has leased the land from the Samis Foundation, which funds Jewish education projects. The new buyer will now make those lease payments.