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September 11, 2017

BMR proposes two 14-story towers for a full block at 700 Dexter in SLU

Journal staff reporter

Images by SkB Architects [enlarge]
The towers would be separated by a mid-block pedestrian connector, with a beer garden and other retail.

Heights are capped on the site, which is in the flight path of seaplanes landing on Lake Union.

Soil contamination wasn't enough to deter BioMed Realty from paying $16 million in January for the full block at 700 Dexter Ave. N. in South Lake Union.

Now the company will show its initial plans for the site at a design review meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Queen Anne Community Center, 1901 First Ave. W.

The 59,818-square-foot property is bounded by Dexter, Eighth Avenue North, Valley and Roy streets, and is often called the American Linen Supply block. It is south of Juxt apartments, and north of the Mercer mega-block that JLL is selling on the city's behalf.

SkB Architects is designing two 14-story towers for BMR that would be 175 feet tall. Heights are capped on the site, which is in the flight path of seaplanes landing on Lake Union.

A mix of lab and office space are planned, totaling about 495,417 square feet.

There would also be about 24,633 square feet of ground-floor retail, and three levels of underground parking for up to 520 vehicles, accessed from Valley. The depth of the parking is constrained by lingering soil contamination.

The north and south towers would be separated by a 52-foot-wide mid-block pedestrian connector. Two skybridges would connect the towers at the fourth floor.

The south tower would have a smaller footprint, creating more open space along Dexter. The corner at Roy and Eighth could be occupied by a double-height “field house/market hall.”

A beer garden and other retail is indicated along the connector, where the two tower lobbies would face each other.

SkB writes that the area between the towers would be “a pedestrian gathering space that transitions from the arterial of Dexter Avenue North to pedestrian-oriented Eighth Avenue North. The outdoor space promotes pedestrian interaction and outdoor uses by responding to steep east-west topography with a level plaza for the majority of its extent, terminating in a cascading stair onto Eighth Avenue, thus providing a through-block connection to the future green street.”

The unnamed project's amenities would include a bike room and showers. Dexter is the major bike corridor to South Lake Union.

BMR labels floors three through five as “R&D capable/office.”

The company's local properties include 307 Westlake, the Omeros Building, and the recently expanded Vue Research Center in South Lake Union. The Seattle market is very tight for lab and life-sciences space.

Meanwhile rival Alexandria Real Estate Equities has started construction on 205,000 square feet at 1818 Fairview Ave. E., without an announced tenant. That project was originally planned as lab and life science space, but may become tech office space.

BMR's plans for 700 Dexter were delayed by legal wrangling with former owner Frontier Renewal, which had tried to sell to another buyer despite a prior purchase-and-sale agreement with BMR. (BMR already had $1.8 million in escrow, yielding an actual price of $18 million.)

Denver-based Frontier hired SoundEarth in 2013 to rid the site of tetrachloroethene, or PCE. SoundEarth used electrical resistance heat treatment wells for the cleanup, which is now judged to be complete.

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