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November 16, 2023

Touchstone tops out on Chapter Buildings in U District

Real Estate Editor

Photo by Tim Rice Photography [enlarge]
Looking east, the west building rises to 12 stories on its north end. The east building is peeking out between that and the separate oLiv Seattle student housing tower.

Groundwork began on the University District's two Chapter Buildings, east and west, in the spring of 2022.

Completion of the shell and core for both is expected next year. And this week developer Touchstone announced that both the office/life-science towers have now topped out. CollinsWoerman designed the pair, which will have nearly 400,000 square feet.

Touchstone CEO Pat Callahan said in a statement, “The topping out of the Chapter Buildings is a milestone nearly five years in the making. This milestone is a celebration of the people that have physically built this structure to this point.”

The larger 12-story west building is at 4530 12th Ave. N.E. Lease Crutcher Lewis is the builder there. East across the alley is a large public plaza, aka the Brooklyn Cut, with a pedestrian connector leading to the east building.

That 10-story structure is at 4536 Brooklyn Ave. N.E. BNBuilders is the builder there. Those 154,000 square feet are intended for life-science use, with Zoe Life Sciences aiding that effort.

Image by CollinsWoerman [enlarge]
In this rendering, looking north, the plaza and Brooklyn Avenue lie between the two buildings.

Touchstone and partner Portman Holdings are developing the project on land ground leased from University District Parking Associates. Portman's Travis Garland said in a statement, “Companies continue to want locations that support their focus on recruiting and retaining the best talent. The Chapter Buildings offer direct access to the University of Washington ecosystem, and the ability to tap into that talent pool.”

Both he and Callahan describe an innovation district that includes their project, the U.W. and various tech and life-science ventures clustered around the campus and light rail station.

CBRE's Laura Ford, David Abbott and Greg Inglin are representing the space. No leases have been announced. Recent reports from outside brokers don't indicate any signed leases. Gibraltar is representing the retail/commercial space at grade.

The Chapter Buildings team also includes Lionstone Investments, financial partner; Bank OZK, construction lender; Portman Architects, consultant; Bush, Roed & Hitchings, surveyor; Coughlin Porter Lundeen, civil engineer; MacDonald Miller, mechanical and plumbing; Sequoyah, electrical; DCI, structural; AESI, geotechnical engineers; GGLO, landscape architect; Urban Environmental Partners; Urban Renaissance Group, property manager; and Fuzzco, branding.

North of downtown and South Lake Union, there are four office/life-science projects rising above ground: the Chapter Buildings; Northlake Commons, from Hess Callahan Grey Group; 35 Stone, from Evolution Projects; and the U District Station Building, from LPC West and Intercontinental Real Estate.

The latter is rising a block south of the Chapter Buildings, with the U.W. taking about half the space. The upper floors are as yet unclaimed.

Brooks has previously confirmed it'll occupy some portion of 35 Stone, in Wallingford. A recent report from Colliers says that all 108,657 square feet have been claimed.

At the Chapter Buildings, selling points include the west building's large rooftop deck, bike storage, gym and locker rooms, and the proximity to light rail. (The duo will also have about 284 underground parking stalls.) Both buildings are expected to meet U.S. Green Building Council, LEED Gold and Fitwel standards.

And there's a third Touchstone/Portman project planned on a UDPA lot, a few blocks south at 4236 Brooklyn Ave. N.E. That 14-story, 310-room hotel project has been quiet for the past year. There's no master use permit yet for architect Johnson Braund. Mortenson Construction is attached as the builder.


Brian Miller can be reached by email at brian.miller@djc.com or by phone at (206) 219-6517.

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