Business

Utah firm bought Boise Grove’s biggest building, then built another. It just sold both.

A Seattle company with historic ties to some of Idaho’s largest timber companies has bought two major buildings in Downtown Boise, including one that once was the tallest building in the state.

Laird Norton Properties, a subsidiary of Laird Norton Co., bought the 19-story U.S. Bank Plaza at Main and Capitol streets and most of the adjacent nine-story Clearwater Building, once known as City Center Plaza. The two buildings were sold by Gardner Co., which built the Clearwater in 2016. Clearwater refers to Clearwater Analytics.

The deal for the two buildings is expected to close next week, Matt Anderson, senior project director for Heartland LLC, a Laird Norton-owned real estate company, said. The company did not disclose the sale price. The two buildings are valued at $75.4 million, according to an assessment by the Ada County Assessor’s Office.

“We’re excited about returning to the Boise market with the purchase of these buildings,” Anderson said in a telephone interview.

The company also will pursue other business opportunities in the Treasure Valley, he said,.

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The Clearwater Building, left, and the US Bank Plaza, are located next to one another at Main and Capitol streets in Downtown Boise. Provided by Laird Norton

Laird Norton was interested the Clearwater Building, with 107,000 square feet of office space and 19,000 square feet of retail, after seeing a listing late last year from Cushman & Wakefield, Anderson said. During discussions on that building, the company learned that Gardner Co. was also willing to sell the US Bank Plaza.

“We were interested in both buildings since they were next to each other,” Anderson said.

Gardner Co. received nine offers for the Clearwater Building, said David Wali, Gardner’s executive vice president. Most would-be buyers were interested in a package deal with the US Bank Plaza and Eighth and Main, across the street, which Gardner decided to keep.

Why sell? “When you’re a developer, the time comes when you need to sell buildings to raise money for new projects,” Wali said in a phone interview.

Laird Norton was founded in 1855 by William Laird and cousins James and Matthew Norton in Winona, Minnesota. In 1900, they partnered with Washington state timber magnate Frederick Weyerhaeuser to acquire and manage timberlands. That led to the formation of the Weyerhaeuser Co., one of the world’s largest owners of private timberland.

Laird Norton, now a seventh-generation family company, also founded The Potlatch Co., a North Idaho timber company, and Boise Payette Lumber Co., which later became Boise Cascade Corp. Today, Laird Norton focuses on real estate investment and wealth management.

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Matthew Norton Clapp, second from left, a Norton Laird executive, stands with other officials at the Payette River Tree Farm near Smiths Ferry in 1941. The farm was operated by the Boise Payette Lumber Co., which later became Boise Cascade Corp. Provided by Laird Norton

Completed in 1978, US Bank Plaza, at 101 S. Capitol Blvd., was built for Idaho First National Bank by the Morrison-Knudsen Co. At the time, Idaho First, founded in 1867, was Idaho’s leading bank. It later became West One and was acquired by US Bank in 1995. The building, bought by Gardner Co. in 2013, has 262,000 square feet and is home to more than 30 companies.

The Eighth and Main Building, built by Gardner, replaced the US Bank Plaza as Idaho’s tallest building when it was completed in early 2014.

Clearwater Analytics, which provides web-based investment portfolio reporting, occupies the office space at the Clearwater Building. Boise State University maintains its computer science department there. The building also includes convention center meeting rooms for Boise Centre East, operated by the Greater Boise Auditorium District, and a bus terminal for Valley Regional Transit.

The BSU, Auditorium District and Valley Regional Transit spaces are publicly owned and were not included in the sale.

Gardner Co., based in Salt Lake City and with offices in Boise and Henderson, Nevada, will continue to manage US Bank Plaza and the Clearwater Building. Gardner’s Boise offices are in the US Bank Plaza.

Reporter John Sowell has worked for the Statesman since 2013. He covers business and growth issues. He grew up in Emmett and graduated from the University of Oregon.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.
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