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SEATTLE-The Washington State Investment Board has been a client of Lowe Enterprises for 10 years and that relationship is healthy and ongoing despite recent events in the Seattle market, says Lowe’s West Coast executive Brad Hillgren, who spoke with GlobeSt.com this week.

Last week, Craig Wrench and Ric Anderson, Lowe’s point men in Seattle, announced they had formed their own company, bought Lowe’s business in the market, leased Lowe’s old office space and hired Lowe’s 39 other Seattle employees. Hillgren says the business Wrench and Anderson purchased was the asset and property management assignments Lowe was handling for the state investment board, and that the investment board financed the acquisition and is a major stakeholder in Wrench and Anderson’s new company, Washington Holdings.

Hillgren says the state investment board has been investing in real estate operating companies elsewhere around the nation and, given the size of the portfolio Lowe had helped them create in Seattle, thought it appropriate to create an operating unit for its home market. “Functionally, that’s what they did with Washington Holdings,” says Hillgren, explaining that Lowe will continue to advise the state investment board, invest its money and manage its assets elsewhere in the nation.

One of Lowe’s nine pension plan clients, the Washington State Investment Board invests $53.7 billion of assets for 32 separate funds, including the state employees’ retirement fund. “We continue to work on behalf of the state investment board around the country,” says Hillgren, “and we will also be working with (Wrench) and (Anderson) in the ongoing operation of a couple of assets on an interim basis.”

For example, Hillgren says that since Lowe now has few assets to manage in the Seattle market, Washington Holdings is currently handling property management for Springbrook 188 Distribution Center, better known as the former AG Warehouse, in Kent, Wash., an asset Lowe oversees for the Alaska State Pension Investment Board.

As for the future of Lowe in Seattle, Hillgren says the firm has a 25-year history here and will continue to invest in the Puget Sound. “Right now it’s clearly not a great development market,” says Hillgren, “but as it recovers we think there will be acquisition opportunities we will be looking at for our clients.”

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