TACOMA, WA-Port of Tacoma Commissioners on Thursday night authorized the execution of a purchase and sale agreement to acquire the multi-tenant World Trade Center building here for just under $7 million.

The approval begins the Port’s due diligence period. Assuming no deal killers lurk under the surface, the sale should close in late January or early February, the Port’s Director of Real Estate Bob Emerson tells GlobeSt.com.

The WTC building, which may not retain its name for long, would be the Port’s first multi-tenant office building. The port owns the land beneath the building, says Emerson, and master leases about 20,000 sf in the building. It occupies about 2,000 sf for meeting rooms and commission chambers and subleases the rest to SL Service Inc., a subsidiary of shipping company CSX Lines.

The port currently receives about $82,000 a year rent for the land and about $413,000 for its SL Service sublease. Lease income from owning the building could give the port gross revenue of a bit more than $1 million a year. Annual operating costs were not immediately available.

The building sits on six acres at the entrance to the Port from Interstate 5, and has the potential to expand or be combined with developments on adjacent properties. Original plans called for two office towers on the property.

“Those possibilities are facilitated by having the same entity own the building and the land,” says Emerson, who proceeded to qualify the statement. “However, there are no hard plans now and no anticipated change in building use or occupancy for the near term.”

The building is owned by the World Trade Center Group, a limited partnership headed by commercial real estate owner and developer William Riley. The WTC name, however, is owned by the World Trade Center Association. “If they move–and the WTCA board has expressed interest in moving to Downtown Tacoma–the building would have to change its name,” says Emerson.

Historically, the building, located at 3600 Port of Tacoma, has been 90%-95% leased. Currently, it is 85% leased. William Riley Co. has the marketing assignment. That arrangement would be reviewed once the Port took control of the building.

The average annual full-service lease rate in the building is $19.50 per sf. The single largest tenant in the building is Foundation Health, an insurance claims processing business. Another large tenant is the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service. Pacific Maritime Association left the building at the beginning of the year, and the Puyallup Tribe’s economic development arm also vacated space in the building this year.