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SEATTLE-Russell Investments is moving its headquarters to Seattle from Tacoma, its home base since 1936. The global financial firm will move its 900-person headquarters to the former WaMu Center, which is being acquired by Russell’s parent, Northwestern Mutual.

Russell, informed its employees via email today, saying the move will be completed by late 2010. The company has been looking for approximately 500,000 square feet. Neither Russell Investments nor Northwestern Mutual returned phone calls seeking comment.

WaMu Center became Chase Center after the federal seizure of Washington Mutual and its subsequent sale to Chase. Chase spokeswoman Darcy Donohoe-Wilmot tells GlobeSt.com that Chase is indeed selling the building to Northwestern Mutual and that Chase would consolidate its employees onto three floors of the 890,000-square-foot, 42-story building to create contiguous space for Russell Investments. She did not know which floors within the 42-story building each company would ultimately occupy, but did say the bank’s street-level branch would remain.

For Tacoma, the loss is significant; Russell Investments was the city’s largest private employer. The company became a subsidiary of Northwestern Mutual 10 years ago. Located at 909 A Street in Downtown Tacoma, it has been considering its space options for the past three years. It was planning to make a decision last year but the recession delayed its plans, and then Northwest Mutual’s imminent purchase of WaMu Center changed its plans entirely.

For Downtown Seattle, the relocation helps fill a big hole created by WaMu’s takeover. WaMu moved 4,000 employees into the building it co-developed upon its completion in 2006 and continued to lease an additional 700,000 square feet in other Downtown buildings. Since WaMu became Chase, the number of employees at WaMu Center fell 85% to just 500 and other leaseholds weren’t renewed. Downtown class A vacancy totaled 16% as of mid-year 2009.

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