Medical and dental offices/condos planned in former WEA headquarters

The Mirror

Four Seattle real estate entrepreneurs have acquired the former Washington Education Association headquarters building and plan to convert it into medical and dental office condominiums.

The two-story, 35,000-square-feet building, located on Ninth Avenue, was purchased from the WEA for $2.6 million, according to Pat McCabe, investment partner and spokesman.

Changes to the building to suit tenants are expected to be finished by the first quarter of 2006.

“The demand to buy instead of lease among the medical community has been there for a long time,” McCabe said. “By redeveloping this prime property into commercial condominiums, we are providing physicians and dentists the opportunity for long-term control and lower overall occupancy costs.”

The building’s size and ample parking add to the appeal of the investment and desirability among the medical and dental communities, McCabe said.

Another selling point is the close proximity to St. Francis Hospital and Virginia Mason and Group Health clinics, providing easy access to the larger health networks.

The building was originally built in 1979 as the corporate headquarters of WEA, the state’s largest teachers union. The union has since relocated to another building in east Federal Way.

The office condos will be marketed to general medical and dental practices. Number depends on how much space each tenant ends up taking –– probably between six to 12 units.

The equal partners in the new venture are McCabe, former vice president of development for Unico Properties Inc.; Michael Barnes, former institutional investment manager for Touchstone Corp.; Joe Brotherton, an independent investor; and Mark Weed, president of Egis Real Estate Services. Egis will be the project’s property manager.

Nordstrom Medical Tower at Swedish Hospital in Seattle is an example of the type of project planned here. Typically, the real estate community looks to lease out office buildings, but the nature of occupancy for medical and dental professionals works well for them to own their own space, as their space requirements generally don’t change, a project spokeswoman said. She noted the tenants invest in medical equipment and higher-grade office interiors, and the condo set-up gives them long-term control of their space –– meaning they won’t get bumped out by a landlord or someone else in the building wanting to expand.

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