Chinese firm Gaw Capital snags Seattle’s tallest trophy tower

The top of Seattle, Washington’s skyline now belongs to Gaw Capital Partners, the Hong Kong firm that reportedly closed on its $711m purchase of the 76-story Columbia Tower with $400m in acquisition financing from MetLife.

The top of Seattle, Washington’s skyline now belongs to Gaw Capital Partners, the Hong Kong firm that reportedly closed on its $711m purchase of the 76-story Columbia Tower with $400m in acquisition financing from MetLife.

In early June Real Estate Capital reported that the Chinese firm would seek to take out a new loan on the property after sealing an agreement to buy the building from Beacon Capital. Records indicate the new loan carries a 12-year duration. A MetLife spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for additional comment.

Beacon bought the 967-foot, 1.5m sq ft tower in 2007 for $621m, the same year it was appraised at $650m. But top tenants like Amazon.com began to file out during the recession and ownership began to struggle with loan payments.

In October 2010 an original $380m securitized loan on the property — part of MSC 2007-HQ12 — was modified and split into the $300m and $80m slices after falling into the hands of special servicer LNR Partners due to “deteriorating performance and cash flow distress,” according to a research memo from Barclays. Barclays estimated that a $562m sale price was needed to pay off the B note.

The building is the West Coast’s second tallest building behind the 1,018-foot US Bank Tower in Los Angeles, California. But it’s not enough for Gaw: the company is in the midst of a deal to buy the 27-story Seattle Tower, a historic office building in the central business district, according to local reports.

Asian firms are particularly astute at navigating US markets, partnering with US companies, scooping trophy assets and more recently buying land for large-scale projects – an indication that they are here to stay. China’s US acquisitions doubled to $5.8bn in 2014, according to data from Real Capital Analytics.

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