Russell Investments said the weak real estate market provides "new opportunities" in its search for a new corporate headquarters in Tacoma or Seattle.

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Russell Investments said today that it is extending into next year its search for a new corporate headquarters location to take advantage of “new opportunities” as the real estate market weakens.

The company also disclosed it has narrowed its search to Tacoma and Seattle, ruling out suburban locations. Earlier it had said only that it was considering sites in the Puget Sound area and would make a decision by year-end.

Russell is downtown Tacoma’s largest employer, with about 1,100 workers. It’s looking to expand or replace its current offices there with a corporate complex that could someday total 1.2 million square feet. Worldwide, the unit of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance has about 2,100 employees.

“Recent economic events have had a significant impact on the Puget Sound real estate market,” the company said in a statement. “As a result, Russell believes it is in the best interest of the company and its stakeholders to continue evaluating its options, particularly as new opportunities emerge. Russell is considering multiple sites in Tacoma and Seattle, and expects to make an announcement in 2009.”