Alexandria seals $143M deal in Seattle's 'heart of the heart,' grabbing coveted land to build its biotech cluster
In the latest push to become the premier landlord in Seattle’s growing biotech hub, Alexandria has secured rights to a new plot surrounded by tech giants.
The life sciences real estate developer — renowned in part for its startup incubators and venture investments — has agreed to pay the city government $138.5 million for a 2.86-acre site in the booming South Lake Union neighborhood. Pending council approval, construction will begin as early as next year.
“We feel it’s really the heart of the heart, and this is the last large block of land left to develop,” Joel Marcus, executive chairman and founder of Alexandria, told GeekWire.
That particular stretch along Mercer is just across the street from several University of Washington Medical School facilities and a few minutes walk from Juno Therapeutics, an Alexandria tenant. To the east sits the Allen Institute for Brain Science while the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would be a neighbor on the west. Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook all have campuses nearby.
Alexandria beat five other bidders to the deal after sweetening its offer by around 40%, GeekWire reported, while also contributing $5 million toward homelessness and committing to build a community center in addition to an affordable housing tower comprising at least 175 units on one of the sites.
Marcus first began envisioning a life sciences cluster — his word for a community of interconnected companies and institutions — for Seattle in 1996, when he struck a purchase-leaseback deal with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center around its original campus. He has since built 1.5 million square feet of space and penciled in another half a million square feet for construction.
“With Seattle companies tackling ambitious new approaches to disease treatment in recent years, the city has emerged as a leader in immunology, cell therapy, infectious diseases and the intersection of science and technology,” he remarked earlier this year while announcing other development projects in the city.
Just this week, Alexandria unveiled that the newly public biotech unicorn Adaptive Biotechnologies has signed a 12-year lease at another development at 1165 Eastlake Avenue East, northeast of the Mercer Mega Block. The move-in date is set for 2022.
Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan called the new land sale “one of the most consequential property deals the city of Seattle has ever done” given the potential to create both new jobs and affordable housing.