Court vindicates bid process for Wexford project with UW in Seattle

Developer to build an R&D lab to cost $355M, part of university’s innovation district

Court OK’s Contract for Wexford Project With UW in Seattle

From left: Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ Peter Moglia and University of Washington’s Ana Mari Cauce along with 3919 University Way NE in Seattle (Getty, ZGF Architects, UNED: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia – via Wikimedia Commons, Alexandria Real Estate Equities)

The Washington State Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the University of Washington in a dispute with Alexandria Real Estate Equities over the first project in the long-planned, 69-acre Portage Bay Crossing innovation district.

The dispute centered around the university’s plans to develop a new research and development facility on the site of the old W27 Building at 3919 University Way N.E., in the West Campus area of the University District of Seattle, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported.

The 11-story building, which would house academic and private research labs and offices, is part of the university’s larger effort to create an innovation district that will bring together research, education and industry.

Baltimore-based Wexford Science & Technology won the contract to develop the property. A 2022 UW memo said Wexford’s cost to build the 340,000-square-foot building was $282.5 million, with the university’s capital cost totaling nearly $72 million, for a total budget of $355 million.

Alexandria, a real estate investment trust based in Pasadena, Calif., had argued in court papers that the university’s plans violated a state law that requires public entities to obtain competitive bids for projects that cost more than $500,000. 

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The appeals court disagreed, ruling that the university was not required to obtain competitive bids for the project.

The ruling is a big win for the university, which has been working for years to develop the PBX innovation district. The project is expected to create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars in economic activity for the region.

The PBX innovation district, including the W27 site, has a capacity for 19 new buildings costing $3 billion, according to the Business Times.

Alexandria said it will ask the state Supreme Court to review UW’s contracting process.

— Dana Bartholomew

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