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October 23, 2018
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Vista Investment Group Buys Historic U.S. Customs House in Portland


Vista Investment Group has acquired the historic 67k sf U.S. Customs House in Portland, OR for $30 mil, or $448/sf. It was sold by Eastern Real Estate.

Located at 220 NW Eighth Avenue, the H-shaped building encompasses a full city block, bounded by NW Broadway, Everett Street, and Davis Street in the Pearl District, a former industrial neighborhood that has reinvented itself as one of Portland’s most dynamic urban neighborhoods.

“With its distinctive architecture, large floor plates and high-volume interiors, The U.S. Customs House is an irreplaceable building in the Pearl District of Portland and we consider it one of the jewels in our portfolio,” said Vista President Jonathan Barach. “Residential and office users alike appreciate the authentic experience that these historic buildings offer and we continue to look for opportunities throughout the West Coast for these types of assets.”

Designated as a Portland Historic Landmark, and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, The U.S. Customs House was constructed in 1901 to accommodate the city’s burgeoning prosperity and status in the late 19th century, according to the General Services Administration. It is considered one of the most ornate and intact historic buildings in Portland. The granite and brick building originally housed the U.S. Customs Service, which occupied the building for 67 years. The building is now 100% leased to the preeminent collaborative workspace company, WeWork. Currently valued at more than $20 bil, WeWork recently received a $4.4 bil investment from Softbank Group, giving Vista added confidence in the tenant’s long-term viability.

“Portland’s Pearl District has undergone exceptional growth since peak vacancy in 2009,” said Jones Lang LaSalle’s Executive Vice President Paige Morgan who along with Managing Director Buzz Ellis and Senior Vice President Peter Furest led the JLL team on the sale. “Today the neighborhood is home to art galleries, restaurants, young tech workers, local and national retailers, and affluent empty nesters. The micro market’s 2.8 msf of office space has consistently outperformed the overall central business district. The Custom House is an incomparable asset in a thriving area of NW Portland.”

The U.S. Customs House is Vista’s latest acquisition of architecturally significant, historic buildings located in transformative urban neighborhoods of major West Coast cities. Among Vista’s holdings include: the original 82k sf Boeing corporate headquarters in Seattle’s up-and-coming Georgetown neighborhood; and the 50k sf Jensen’s Recreation Center, in Los Angeles’ burgeoning Echo Park district.

Andrew Kirsh, partner and head of the real estate practice for Los Angeles-based law firm Sklar Kirsh acted as legal counsel to Vista Investment Group in the transaction.

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