BioMed Realty held a grand opening Thursday for its new building, as it created one of the largest life science hubs in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle with a total of 223,000 square feet of state-of-the-art real estate.
Vue Research Center, located at 500 Fairview Avenue, was designed to support Seattle’s transformational research and ground-breaking science. It was completed in less than two years after construction began in the fall of 2014. The expanded research center is comprised of a new 122,000 square foot building adjoined to the existing 101,000 square feet of world-class laboratory and office space at 530 Fairview Avenue. This new research center will offer two floors of below-ground parking, a world class fitness center, retail space on the first floor with an on-site cafe, a 100-person conference center, and seven floors of leasable space that is flexible to meet tenants’ needs.
The mayor really believes that this sector is a very important part of Seattle’s growth going forward
Current tenants include Novo Nordisk and NanoString Technologies. Space is currently available on the second, sixth and seventh floors. However, due to a high inquiry rate most of the empty space is expected to be leased within the next 60 to 90 days, according to Mike Ruhl, BioMed vice president in Seattle.
“We believe that the life science sector, in general across the country, is growing at a 10 percent rate, which is faster than the broader economy,” said Alan Gold, BioMed CEO. “We believe it will continue into the foreseeable future.”
As the leading provider of real estate solutions to the life science community, San Diego-based BioMed Realty has 20 years experience in leasing, development, construction, redevelopment, acquisition, financing and property management to its tenant partners in the U.S. and U.K. It has over 18 million square feet of rentable space across the U.S. in San Francisco, Chicago, St. Louis, Boulder, Boston and in nine states along the east coast. The company was purchased in October of last year in a $8 billion by New York-based Blackstone Group, a multinational private investment banking company, which provides access to equity capital as BioMed continues to grow.
The city of Seattle has shown continued strong support for the life science community, and the city has reorganized the Office of Economic Development in order to make this industry a priority. “The mayor really believes that this sector is a very important part of Seattle’s growth going forward,” said Kate Joncas, Seattle Deputy Mayor of Operations. “The neighborhood vision included it from the very beginning.”
According to BioMed representatives, the Puget Sound makes up roughly ten percent of the life science market in the West Coast with about 4.5 million square feet, compared to over 30 million square feet in the Bay Area and over 12 million square feet in San Diego. “We’re here, and we’re growing as a market,” said Ruhl. “We’re at that point now where there’s enough [space for lease], so people come here for it, and that growth will continue.”
“This kind of product in today’s marketplace is highly sought after,” Ruhl added. “The market is at less than one percent vacancy, so tenants coming in are having problems finding real technical buildings that have the features that this particular building has. This is not a commodity space, it is a highly specialized building.”
According to Kidder Mathews’ Seattle Life Science Third Quarter 2015 Report, the area’s life science company clusters are located in the city of Seattle itself and on the eastside, primarily Bothell. The office/laboratory market experienced an increase in demand in 2014 and the first half of 2015 which dramatically reduced space availability. The vacancy rate for unoccupied lab space in Seattle is virtually at zero percent. Bothell does have a minimal amount of lab space available at rental rates substantially less than what would be found in Seattle. Construction for laboratory facilities is slow due to financing constraints and expensive specialized improvements required.
BioMed currently owns 491,228 square feet in Seattle and 118,799 in Bothel, for a total of 610,000 square feet of life science space in the Puget Sound region. “We have been active in this market since 2007 and we continue to build our portfolio here, this is just the latest expansion,” said Ruhl. “We continuously look for opportunities either in existing product or to build ground-up development, and we have options in the next five years to move forward and build additional square footage in this marketplace.”
“For us it’s also about the proximity to the research institutions and the other life science existing tenants,” added Gold. “Otherwise, new tenants won’t want to come here.”
Located in the hub of Seattle’s life science community, the Vue neighbors the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle Children’s Hospital, University of Washington School of Medicine, Institute for Systems Biology, and the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Other corporate giants in the neighborhood include Amazon and Microsoft.