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Columbia Bank Building fails to sell at auction; leasing efforts resume

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on March 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
March 11, 2013 1:06 pm

A downtown Tacoma office building, which spent much of its 108-year life as a department store, failed to sell at an online auction late last month.

Bids for the  Columbia Bank Building at 1102 Broadway failed to meet the owner’s undisclosed reserve price at the auction, said John Bauder, a broker with CBRE Inc. real estate.

Columbia Bank Building -- photo by Peter Haley
Columbia Bank Building — photo by Peter Haley

The highest bid in the online auction for the five-story structure was $4.65 million, a little more than half of the loan amount a prior owner had secured to buy the building.  The mortgage holder foreclosed on the building last fall.

Bauder, who is handling leasing for the structure, said the decision not to carry through with the sale at the highest bid price removed some uncertainty about the building’s future and rekindled interest from potential tenants whose interest in the building had cooled pending the auction’s outcome.

Bauder said several potential tenants have shown interest in leasing.  The building is about two-thirds occupied. Columbia Bank is the building’s largest tenant.

The CBRE broker said the special master in the bankruptcy is continuing to explore the possibilities of a private sale and could put the building back on the auction block later after the market revives and the building is more fully occupied.

The 88,000-square foot structure was constructed in 1905 as the Fisher Department Store.  The building became a Bon Marche in 1952.  The Bon left the structure for Tacoma Mall in 1964.

The building was converted to offices in the early ’80s.  It was remodeled in 1999.

The Bon Marche was among five department stores that once called downtown Tacoma home.  The others included Rhodes Brothers directly across South 11th Street, Sears at South 13th Street and Broadway, J.C. Penney, between the Bon and Sears on Broadway and Peoples at South 11th Street and Pacific Avenue.

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