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Originally published October 16, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Page modified October 20, 2010 at 2:06 PM

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Sunday Buzz

Top condo at Four Seasons sells at big discount

The two-story condo atop the Four Seasons Residences finally sold this month, two years after construction finished. Tacoma-based penny-stock company Cascadia Investments plunges despite traders' campaign.

Need more evidence that home values have dropped? Look no farther than the Four Seasons Private Residences, those high-high-high-end condos atop the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Seattle.

Unit 2000, an unfinished, two-story penthouse, finally sold this month, two years after the complex was completed. An entity called PJM LLC — public records give no hint of who is behind it — paid $7.2 million for it.

That's 33 percent less than the $10.8 million developer Seattle Hotel Group originally wanted, and about 20 percent below the reduced asking price SHG advertised in February.

PJM's new home is a two-bedroom, 2.5-bath unit with 5,256 square feet. Two terraces cover another 3,100 square feet.

Unit 2000 is just the second condo at the Four Seasons to sell this year. Space Needle co-owner H.S. Wright III bought Unit 1902 in March for $6.3 million, according to county records — a 26 percent discount from the original list price.

The Four Seasons' 36 condos occupy the top 11 floors of the 21-story complex at First Avenue and Union Street. Twenty-two sold as construction was winding down in late 2008 and early 2009, but since then sales there, as elsewhere, have languished.

Eleven units remain on the market. Make an offer: The deals for Units 2000 and 1902 suggest Seattle Hotel Group at least will listen.

— Eric Pryne

Penny stock falls

despite campaign

Cascadia Investments, a Tacoma-based penny-stock company, has been championed for a year by a website that claims it can organize traders to "lock up" all available shares in a company and cause its price to go through the roof.

Instead, this past week the stock went through the floor.

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Cascadia shares (traded as CDIV on the over-the-counter market) fell 49 percent to 7 cents on Thursday, capping a drop that's taken them from 70 cents in April.

Three other stocks touted by the same site also plunged Thursday, losing from 24 to 81 percent. Cascadia fell 18 percent more Friday, on 13 times the usual volume.

That hasn't shaken the faith of Edward Watkins, of Annapolis, Md., an Air Force employee on the East Coast who bought Cascadia shares with other followers of the Monk's Den website.

"I myself am still 100% in," he e-mailed late Thursday.

Cascadia itself is insubstantial, to put it charitably. A visit to the company's headquarters last February found a dingy, one-room office marked only by a yellow sign indicating Cascade's previous endeavor, real estate. "The cheapest rentals," it read.

Its financial statements, which are not audited or filed with regulators, show that for the three months ended June 30 it had a mere $361 in revenue and $24,076 in expenses.

CEO Nazir Maherali, a former denizen of British Columbia's breeding ground for speculative stocks, says Cascadia is building a portfolio of "tour de force" game applications for the iPhone and iPad.

But the handful of 99-cent games it recently introduced have overwhelmingly negative user reviews.

Even at 7 cents apiece, its 207 million shares imply a market value of $14 million.

None of that concerns the coterie of CDIV believers like Watkins.

Egged on by Monk's Den and its financial guru, Jerry Williams, they've banked on the theory that their group can buy up all the freely trading shares of CDIV.

Then, the story goes, short-sellers who've bet against the stock will have to pay dearly to obtain the shares needed to cover their obligations.

"It really doesn't matter what the company does," a Monk's Den leader under the screen name Lone Grey wrote last fall on the InvestorsHub website, which has accumulated an astonishing 158,000 posts cheerleading for CDIV. "While I feel Cascadia is fundamentally sound and will grow nicely, take a peek at what we did with two worthless companies."

He went on to describe scenarios where "a group of disciplined investors" bought up all the freely trading shares of companies and supposedly drove up the price short-sellers had to pay.

In Cascadia's case, CEO Maherali said in an April interview that 147 million of its shares were restricted; that means the float, or freely trading shares, is about 50 million. The official website for the OTC market indicates the float is only 23 million.

Whatever the correct number is, subscribers to the float lockup theory presume that none of the restricted stock is being sold by the unidentified people who own it.

That's a big leap of faith. And it runs counter to numerous examples of penny-stock insiders profiting while their companies' shares are temporarily lifted by one story or another.

But sometimes faith is unshakable. "Eventually this will work," wrote one poster on a CDIV message board early Friday. "I'm not worried."

— Rami Grunbaum

Comments? Send them to Rami Grunbaum:

rgrunbaum@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8541.

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