Alexandria Breaks Ground in Seattle

Much-needed state-of-the-art laboratory/office space is coming to Seattle’s thriving life sciences sector.
 By Barbra Murray, Contributing EditorAlexandria Center, 400 Dexter Avenue North, Seattle

Much-needed state-of-the-art laboratory/office space is coming to Seattle’s thriving life sciences sector. Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc.’s just broke ground on the 287,000-square-foot Alexandria Center at 400 Dexter Ave. North, where Juno Therapeutics has already signed on as lead tenant.

The 12-story building will take shape in Seattle’s Lake Union neighborhood, the nucleus of the city’s life sciences market. Juno will maintain its headquarters and R&D center in 90,000 square feet under a seven-year lease featuring three five-year extension options. The agreement also gives Juno the right to expand by an additional 71,000 square feet. As for the remaining space, well, it’s unlikely that Alexandria Center will collect much dust after its completion.

For starters, Juno’s star power will certainly attract other life sciences properties to the building. As commercial real estate services firm JLL noted in its last global life sciences report, the cancer immunotherapy developer, “already one of the richest biotech start-ups in history, has the potential to grow into one of Lake Union’s major industry players.”

And then there’s the supply-and-demand dynamic. Per the JLL report, the availability of cutting-edge office/lab space is so limited that, if push comes to shove, users may resort to the conversion of traditional office space for accommodations. The numbers tell the story; the average vacancy rate for office/lab properties in the Lake Union submarket has been hovering in the low- to mid-2 percent range for the last few years.

In a press release, Seattle Mayor Edward Murray summed up the significance of the Alexandria Center development, saying, “The groundbreaking of Juno Therapeutics’ new headquarters with Alexandria underscores Seattle’s standing as a global hub for biotechnology and life sciences.” Alexandria expects to deliver Juno’s new digs in August 2016.