Ryan Cos. has sold the TCF Tower and TCF Bank Building in Minneapolis to a Massachusetts real estate investment company for $40.5 million -- a sale that could indicate a turn in the beleaguered downtown commercial real estate market.

The purchase, which closed Wednesday, includes the 17-story TCF Tower at 121 S. 8th St. and the adjacent four-story TCF Bank Building at 801 Marquette Av. S.

The combined properties are home to TCF National Bank and more than 40 other tenants and are 90 percent occupied, according to buyer Franklin Street Properties Corp. in Wakefield, Mass. The buildings are considered solid Class B office properties.

"This is really the first major transaction we've seen in almost two years in the Twin Cities in total," said Tom Holtz, an executive vice president at CB Richard Ellis, which handled the sale. "When the market crashed in 2008, the commercial real estate market virtually came to a standstill." He called the sale "an indication that the market is slowly but surely starting to thaw."

Ryan Cos. will continue to manage the properties.

The purchase beefs up Franklin Street's presence in this market. Along with affiliates, it owns three other properties in the Twin Cities: 505 Waterford in Plymouth, Eden Bluff Corporate Center I in Eden Prairie and 50 South 10th Street in downtown Minneapolis, where Ryan Cos. is headquartered. Franklin Street invests mostly in suburban office buildings across the country.

Mark Kolsrud, a senior vice president and principal at Cassidy Turley, called the sale price "good math" for other Class B office properties in good condition in a core location.

"It's a very good price for those buildings," Kolsrud said.

The most recent office tower sales in downtown prior to this occurred in 2007, including the North Star Centre, which sold for $62 million, and the Ameriprise operations center that sold for $95 million.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683