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SEATTLE-Locally based Onvia Inc. has unloaded 60% of its 80,000-sf headquarters leasehold obligation at 1260 Mercer St. The publicly held provider of government sales leads to businesses cut a deal with the building owner whereby the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will take 49,000 sf that Onvia had committed to lease but has not been using. The building is about one mile from where the Gates Foundation will develop a new headquarters campus.

The Foundation’s leasehold includes the entire fourth floor and a portion of the first floor. Details of the Foundation’s lease agreement were not disclosed in Onvia’s SEC filing regarding the transaction because it was a direct lease with the building owner, not a sublease from Onvia. Onvia says it has entered into an amended lease with its current landlord in which it will retain the remaining 30,000 sf of office space through April 30, 2010. In addition, it will give the Foundation $215,000 for tenant improvements.

Onvia’s revised leasehold, 29,785 sf, includes part of the First, Plaza and third floors. The lease rate starts out at $45.83 per sf per year ($113,754 per month) and ramps up to $48 per sf ($119, 145 per month) over the life of the lease. The lease rate includes operating costs and the cost of leasing 77 parking spaces in the building. Onvia chairman Mike Pickett says the reduction in its idle lease obligation will improve the company’s cash flow by $2.7 million over the remaining lease term.

The Foundation is preparing to develop a new headquarters for itself on a 12.3-acre lot across Fifth Avenue North from Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium. The world’s largest private philanthropic organization purchased the parking lot from the city in March 2005 for $50.4 million. Construction of the campus is slated to get under way in 2007.

The new campus was prompted by the sale of 1551 Eastlake, the current leased headquarters of the Foundation. The life sciences REIT Alexandria Real Estate Equities paid $29 million for the 120,000-sf office building.

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