Seattle’s historic Smith Tower and an Amazon-occupied building sell to Goldman Sachs affiliate as part of $710M deal

Seattle’s Smith Tower. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Smith Tower, the oldest high-rise in Seattle, has a new owner.

The iconic 104-year-old building sold to an affiliate of Goldman Sachs as part of a broader portfolio deal valued at $710 million. Unico Properties, the Seattle-based owner, sold 27 buildings totaling 1.8 million square feet in Seattle and Denver to the Goldman affiliate Broad Street Principal Investments LLC.

Built in 1914, the 38-story Smith Tower was among the tallest skyscrapers outside of New York when it was completed. Smith Tower was the tallest building west of the Mississippi for years.

The former Pemco headquarters is one of the most visible buildings in Seattle, with thousands of cars driving by on Interstate 5 every day. (GeekWire Photo Kurt / Schlosser)

Also included in the deal is an Amazon-occupied office building in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Known as Yale & Thomas, the property has two adjoining buildings totaling 168,300 and for decades served as the headquarters for Pemco Insurance. The location right off Interstate 5 next door to REI’s flagship store — makes it one of the most visible office buildings in Seattle.

Unico wouldn’t declined to break out sales prices for the individual buildings. Unico will retain a stake in the portfolio and continue to manage the buildings.

Smith Tower
The Smith Tower Observatory is open to the public and features sweeping views and a throwback bar. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Unico purchased Smith Tower in 2015 and immediately went to work on renovating the property, creating a revamped home for businesses and a worthwhile attraction for tourists. In 2017, it began the process of automating its famously manually operated elevator.

Seattle’s King Broadcasting Co. was founded on the 21st floor of Smith Tower in 1947 and operated in the tower for 35 years, according to the building’s website. Tenants today include a range of businesses and tech companies including Pixar, Rubicon, Cozi and Portent. It was home to the GeekWire Elevator Pitch series last year.

As Seattle has evolved, the historic tower has been outgrown by taller, newer neighbors. Just blocks away, the 76-story Columbia Tower dwarfs Smith. And the new angular, glass F5 Tower stands next to it as further proof that Seattle has been growing up and up for years, beyond where Smith topped out at 484 feet.

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