"Mega Block" Deal Creates Space for Life Sciences Industry

Last month, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan drafted a proposal known as the ‘Mercer Mega Block’. The plan presents a breakdown on how funds will be allocated from the sale of nearly three acres in South Lake Union. Alexandria Real Estate won the bid for the location, paying $143.5 million. A portion of those funds will be designated to address the homeless problem in Seattle, as well as affordable housing.

The firm has goals to expand the life science real estate market within Seattle. Commercial spaces for life science companies are limited in the Seattle-area currently, but options are expected to grow 44 percent by 2022.

Alexandria has a variety of life science projects underway in Seattle: The Atrium, 1165 Eastlake and 701 Dexter. Combined, these projects take up 1.5 million square feet. Life science companies are eager to keep their operations within city limits, as most talent is attracted to the city lifestyle.

Alexandria does foresee one obstacle in their expansion throughout the city: venture capital. Compared to markets like the Bay area and Boston, Seattle lacks life science investors. The firm is working on several investment strategies, most of which remain unshared to the public. However, Alexandria did mention plans of launching an incubator in Seattle called LaunchLabs. The program is already established in New York City and Cambridge, Mass. Alexandria’s founder and chairman told GeekWire, “You probably couldn’t find a site that was more importantly located — not only in the heart of the cluster, but really at the center of the life science effort in Seattle.”