homeWelcome, sign in or click here to subscribe.login




print  email to a friend  reprints add to mydjc  

May 11, 2023

New chapter for life sciences starts in the U District

  • With 22 towers coming, a new light rail station, and robust life sciences sector at the UW, it’s no surprise the U District has the potential to be Seattle’s next life sciences hub.


    The addition of two new life sciences and office buildings in the University District signals the potential expansion of Seattle’s strong technology and biotechnology sectors beyond South Lake Union and into one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods.

    Located at 12th Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue, the “Chapter Buildings” are being developed by Touchstone (an Urban Renaissance Group company) and Portman Holdings with a joint-venture partner, Lionstone Investments.

    The combined 400,000-square-foot development will leverage its proximity to the University of Washington as a major catalyst for life sciences education. This gives employers the opportunity to locate near the university to better recruit and retain talent as well as leverage the energy, access, and amenities of a well-established neighborhood.

    “We are thrilled to have such a dynamic commercial development coming into the heart of our community,” U District Partnership Executive Director Don Blakeney said. “Demand remains strong for life science space in Seattle, especially in relation to the start-ups coming out of the University of Washington. Having the Chapter Buildings next to the UW campus and the U District light rail station puts them at a competitive advantage to attract the life science workers of tomorrow to a neighborhood that’s redefining Seattle’s urban environment.”

    Renderings by CollinsWoerman [enlarge]
    Chapter Building II looking north along Brooklyn Avenue Northeast.

    With 22 new towers coming to the U District, a new light rail station, and robust life sciences sector at the University of Washington, it’s no surprise the U District has the potential to be Seattle’s next life sciences hub. What sets the neighborhood apart from South Lake Union is it’s a long-standing neighborhood with UW as its main generator of activity and energy. The Chapter Buildings and other private developments are building upon the life sciences resources that already exist and are expanding on them.

    “The U District is arguably Seattle’s most dynamic neighborhood right now,” said Joe Polito, managing director of development for Touchstone. “With UW’s investment in the West Campus Innovation District, a regional light rail station in the heart of the neighborhood, and more than 20 new high-rise towers in planning and development, the timing of the Chapter Buildings and natural growth of the tech and life sciences sector here is very exciting. The addition of new day-time employees and life science and office space to the district will bring new public-facing and ground-floor shops, open space, and amenities to Brooklyn and 12th avenues.”

    Chapter Building II, the first privately owned life science building in the U District, is 150,000 square feet and features 10 stories of Class A life science space with ground-floor retail, a rooftop deck, and amenity space. The building features taller floor-to-floor heights and more robust infrastructure for venting, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing to accommodate future life sciences tenants.

    Aerial view of the Chapter Buildings and the Brooklyn Cut looking north.

    Chapter Building I is a 12-story office building with 240,000 square feet of office space with ground-floor retail and a rooftop showcasing sweeping city views as well as a pickleball court. Both buildings include easy, street-level access to bike storage, showers, and exercise facilities, and are pursuing LEED Gold and Fitwel certifications. The buildings are on track for second-quarter 2024 completion.

    CollinsWoerman was the architect of the Chapter Buildings, working with the overall vision to enhance the fabric of the neighborhood while complementing its existing character, connect university research and academics with local industries, and create opportunities for pedestrian connections across the site.

    At the ground level, the Brooklyn Cut will connect Chapter Building I and Chapter Building II and serves as an outdoor pedestrian-focused mid-block connector between 12th and Brooklyn avenues. The Brooklyn Cut will turn what was once an underutilized parking lot into an open space that enhances the pedestrian experience. The space offers just over 10,000 square feet of outdoor gathering areas, multiple seating areas, and a seamless entry into the main lobbies and adjacent retail spaces. Porous ground-floor retail spaces will allow pedestrians easy access to the lobbies and retail.


    CBRE reported that Seattle ranks ninth among emerging life sciences hubs in the nation, and the same report found that Seattle experienced a 24% increase in life sciences researchers from 2015 to 2020.

    The arrival of the Chapter Buildings in the U District is significant for many reasons in the neighborhood. They bring a booming hub to the area, and they’re creating a pedestrian-friendly environment for the community that’s highly accessible.

    The U District underwent a robust and dense rezone in 2017 that allowed developers to build higher buildings in exchange for building affordable housing or paying into the city housing fund. The University District is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Seattle — there are currently 22 new towers in planning or development, and UW’s West Campus Innovation District’s 10-year development plan includes 4 million square feet of new development. Plus, the arrival of light rail to the U District, located one block south of the Chapter Buildings, in the fall of 2021 increased connectivity and brought robust private development to the area.

    “In addition to bringing hundreds of new employees and much needed life-sciences space to the U District, the Chapter Buildings will also be creating new public-facing ground floor shops and restaurants, open spaces and amenities to the heart of this growing neighborhood,” Blakeney added. “Only steps away from the new light rail station, the new commercial developments along Brooklyn Avenue are creating a third primary corridor through the neighborhood to complement the existing Roosevelt Way and the Ave.”

    Kristina Rivera is the marketing coordinator at CollinsWoerman.

    Other Stories:

    Email or user name:
    Forgot password? Click here.