April 24. 2012 9:00AM - Last modified: April 24. 2012 9:34AM

Northwestern Mutual sells Seattle office tower

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. Inc. has sold the Russell Investments Center in Seattle to CommonWealth Partners for $480 million, in what is believed to be the largest single asset office sale in the Western United States since 2006.

Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual bought the 42-story, 872,000 square foot office building in the fall of 2009. The Russell Investments Center, located at 1301 Second Avenue in the heart of the Seattle business district, was constructed in 2006.
The company increased the property's market value by raising occupancy from a virtually empty building to 95 percent leased. In December, the company listed the building for sale as part of ongoing management of its real estate investment portfolio.
"This transaction is an example of how we actively manage our $5.8 billion real estate equity portfolio to generate strong returns on behalf of our policyowners," said Paul Hanson, managing director - real estate, Northwestern Mutual. "The company's real estate strategy typically focuses on long-term holds; however, the Seattle market rebounded quickly, creating an excellent opportunity for the company to realize a gain for our policyowners."
Northwestern Mutual's real estate investments are part of its $166 billion general account investment portfolio, which backs the insurance and annuity products that are actively managed for the benefit of policyowners. The company manages its real estate equity portfolio through buying, developing and selling assets in various markets across the country.
CBRE, the world's largest commercial real estate services firm, served as broker for the transaction.
The sale is not expected to cause disruption for tenants with long-term leases, including Russell Investments, Boeing, Nordstrom, Dendreon, JP Morgan Chase and Zillow.