UW News

December 7, 2023

Appellate court rules in favor of the UW on all counts in developer’s lawsuit over west campus project

UW News

The University of Washington has again prevailed on all claims brought by Alexandria Real Estate (ARE) following the UW’s selection of another developer for a new building that will house important clean-energy and medical innovation research, along with other tenants. This time, the clear and concise ruling came from the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division II, confirming Thurston County Superior Judge Carol Murphy’s dismissal of ARE’s three claims — bringing apparent closure to ARE’s nearly three-year effort to delay progress on the project.

The new UW building will be located in Portage Bay Crossing, a designated research and public partnership neighborhood in the University’s west campus.  The site currently known as W27 is the first of several planned developments in the area identified through the University’s master plan that was approved by the city of Seattle in 2019.

ARE attorneys filed a lawsuit alleging that the UW lacked authority to enter into a ground-lease and partial lease-back transaction, and challenging the request for proposals (RFP) process after UW selected Wexford Science + Technology to develop the project. Despite all of its claims being denied by two courts, ARE this week announced its intention to appeal to the Washington State Supreme Court.

“This legal effort by ARE has cost taxpayers significantly in attorney fees, increased costs, and delays to the project, and we are pleased and relieved that yet another firm ruling by yet another court should put this process to rest,” said Lou Cariello, UW’s Vice President for Facilities. “It is profoundly disappointing that ARE — after two courts have decisively dismissed their claims — plan to continue wasting taxpayer money by pursuing another appeal to the State Supreme Court.”

ARE participated in the RFQ/RFP process and was one of two finalists, but was not ultimately selected. Within hours of learning they were not selected in March 2021, ARE representatives and attorneys embarked on a campaign against the University.

ARE immediately threatened it would be “taking back” UW Medicine’s Virology Lab space in ARE’s building in South Lake Union, despite previously agreeing to extend the UW’s lease there. At the time the UW Virology Lab was processing a significant portion of the state’s COVID-19 tests and could not move to another facility without interrupting that work.

ARE then embarked on its ultimately meritless lawsuit claiming the UW did not have the authority to conduct the development RFP process — the very process in which ARE participated in and hoped to win.

Located at 3919 University Way NE, the 340,000-square-foot, 11-story building will be home to both academic and private research laboratories and offices, the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds, a rooftop solar panel testing area, the Institute for Protein Design and the Brotman Baty Institute. It will also house Connect Labs by Wexford, and have a cascading open lobby and event space, public art, conferences rooms and two restaurant spaces.

Envisioned as a gateway into the transformative vision for the recently named Portage Bay Crossing (PBX) area of the UW campus, the building will be a place for creating, connecting, and collaborating. As intended, the W27 site will leverage the already dynamic nature of the UW campus in Seattle to create an interdisciplinary urban community on the west side of campus that will merge education and student life with cutting-edge UW research, pioneering public and nonprofit institutions and private companies. Learn more about Portage Bay Crossing here.

The building was designed by ZGF, AEI, KPFF, and Jones and Jones. The General Contractor is Whiting-Turner. Renderings and caption information can be found here.