Owner neglected landmark Smith Tower, says receiver
Local business bits.
Seattle Times business staff
The Smith Tower's windows apparently haven't been washed in more than three years.
Inside, many of the exit signs and other emergency lights have burned-out bulbs — or no bulbs at all.
Water damage is evident in the stairwells and some vacant offices.
Just 13 tenants remain in the landmark building — and Starbucks, the only retail tenant, has elected not to renew its lease, which expires at the end of February.
All those revelations about the sorry state of Seattle's first skyscraper — and many more — are contained in a report Goodman Real Estate, the building's receiver, filed this month in King County Superior Court.
Goodman took over management of the much loved building last month, per court order, while the holder of the mortgage, CBRE Capital Markets, moves to foreclose. Chicago-based Walton Street Capital, the tower's owner, has defaulted on the loan it took out when it bought the landmark six years ago.
Goodman's report reveals, among other things, that the 98-year-old Smith Tower is even emptier than previously thought. It's just 19 percent occupied, the receiver writes — and that's only if you count the Chinese Room, rented out for weddings and parties, and the one-of-a-kind apartment on top of the tower.
Earlier CBRE court filings had indicated the historic building, at Second Avenue and Yesler Way, was 30 percent full.
Goodman's report paints a sorry picture of neglect. The tower shows "signs of significant deferred maintenance," it says. The common areas and restrooms are dirty. Three of the six functioning elevators need repairs.
On the observation deck, the tiles are cracking and the grout is failing.
One law firm, frustrated about the owner's unresponsiveness to its overtures to renew its lease, stopped paying rent in November 2010 "in hopes to gain attention," but didn't get any.
The building hasn't been actively marketed, Goodman writes, and so hasn't been on the tour lists of companies seeking downtown office space. But, then, the vacant offices aren't lease ready anyway, it adds.
Still, the report maintains, the Smith Tower's future is bright. Tenants for the most part love the building, despite the neglect, and want to stay.
The building's problems aren't structural, the report notes — it underwent extensive renovations in the late 1990s.
And many of the deferred-maintenance issues are slated for fixes this winter.
What's more, Goodman adds, Pioneer Square offices are filling up fast, and little of what remains offers the tower's views, charm or iconic status.
"Smith Tower is being reintroduced to the leasing market at a prime time," it says.
— Eric Pryne, firstname.lastname@example.org
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