SEATTLE-Having already invested $1 billion so far this year, Wells REIT says it is targeting the Pacific Northwest for $200 million of the $1.5 billion more it plans to spend on class A office product by the end of the year. The largest purchaser of class A office space in 2002 says it plans to invest the money in the Seattle and Portland markets, buying single- and multi-tenant buildings filled with “big-credit” tenants under long-term commitments.

Earlier The investment dollars likely will flow to Seattle first, says Clay Adams, director of northern region acquisitions for the public but untraded REIT. “In Seattle, Microsoft has already announced it will hire several thousand more people,” Adams tells, adding that the company will be looking at Dowtown Seattle as well as Eastside markets like Downtown Bellevue.”

In Portland, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, there have been no major new jobs announcements, but Adams says it has good potential thanks to strong firms such as Intel, Nike and IBM Sequent and restraints on new development such as the urban growth boundary and strong environmental laws. “Portland has just started to turn the corner a little bit,” says Adams.

“I’m a big fan of Portland; it has a nice combination of smart people who want to live there and, when combined with an independent spirit, should see a fair amount of new business growth,” says Adams, adding that it will be looking in Downtown Portland as well as the Kruse Way and Sunset Corridor submarkets.

Earlier this week, Wells said it would be spending $500 million of that $1.5 billion on acquisitions in Southern California, focusing especially on properties in the Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County markets.

A good example of the type of product Wells looks for is US Bancorp’s headquarters in Downtown Minneapolis, whic it acquired in May of this year for $174 million. “It was a classic Wells deal,” says Adams, “a big CBD office building where the bank occupied nearly 80% of the building and leases it through 2014.”

In addition to US Bancorp Center, Wells’ 2003 acquisitions include: Aon Center, a 2.7 million-sf class A office tower and one of Chicago’s most prestigious landmark buildings; the Nestle Building, a 545,000-sf class A office tower, which is occupied entirely by Nestle USA and serves as the company’s U.S. headquarters; 150 West Jefferson, a class A, 505,417-sf office building in downtown Detroit purchased for $93.75 million; Citicorp Operations Center, a 409,604-sf, three-story office building located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey; and Koll Corporate Center, a three-story, 119,122-sf, class A office building in Auburn Hills, Michigan, in suburban Detroit.

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