The venerable Seattle real estate firm Unico on Thursday purchased Westlake Tower for $236 million from nationwide financial services provider Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA).
Unico said in a release it does not plan to redevelop the tower, which sits atop the Westlake Center shopping plaza, owned by New York-based Brookfield Properties. TIAA bought the tower in 2011 for $119.4 million.
The 25-story Westlake Tower, close to Amazon’s sprawling South Lake Union headquarters campus, is 95% leased. Four floors are occupied by troubled coworking firm WeWork.
The purchase is the latest in a year of breakneck wheeling and dealing in Seattle real estate on the part of Unico. For decades, the company was known locally as the rather staid developer and property manager of four prime downtown blocks owned by the University of Washington, even as it snapped up properties in Colorado, Utah and the southeast.
Since its lease with UW expired in 2014, Unico has sought to reposition itself in the Puget Sound area, where it now owns or manages more than 30 properties.
Early this year, it sold 27 buildings in Seattle and Colorado — including the iconic Smith Tower — to Goldman Sachs for a combined $710 million. In July 2018, the company acquired a full city block, occupied by 1111 Third Tower and the Second & Spring Building, for $359 million.
The company says it’s committed to fostering environmentally friendly building technologies, pointing to its Stone34 building in Wallingford, one of the city’s most energy-efficient structures, as a model for future development. Unico and Laird Norton jointly acquired Stone34 for $70 million in 2015.