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Originally published February 21, 2012 at 5:21 PM | Page modified February 21, 2012 at 9:23 PM

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Seattle Times Co. explores sale of two blocks in South Lake Union

Land prices near Amazon.com HQ have rebounded to pre-recession levels, says publisher.

Seattle Times business reporter

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The Seattle Times Co. is putting its remaining South Lake Union property — two full blocks — up for sale.

In an email to employees Tuesday, Publisher Frank Blethen said the company would prefer to hold the blocks long term, but is "testing the marketplace" in part because real-estate values in South Lake Union, home of Amazon.com, have rebounded and exceed pre-bust levels.

Blethen also said the recession taught The Times Co. the value of liquidity, and the company may need more cash to make required payments into its employee pension plans.

The two adjacent blocks are bounded by Denny Way, Fairview Avenue North, Thomas Street and Boren Avenue North. Marketing materials indicate The Times is asking a total of $80 million for them, about double their assessed value for tax purposes.

The south block, mostly a parking lot, is zoned for residential or commercial buildings up to 125 feet tall, but city officials are considering neighborhood zoning changes that could lift the height limit on that block to 300 or 400 feet.

The building on the north block was The Times' headquarters for 80 years, but the company has mostly vacated it and moved into rented space. The Times began marketing the property to developers last year as a ground-lease opportunity, and a spokeswoman said that's still a possibility.

Last year, The Times Co. sold two neighboring properties — the Troy Laundry block and the 1000 Denny building — for a total of $54 million. The company now is the Denny building's prime tenant.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com

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