Skanska approached Samis more than three years ago with a vision for the Second and University properties, now referred to as 2&U. Leadership from both groups saw an opportunity to create a true Pacific Northwest building that could position Seattle and its downtown for continued success. Their discussions resulted in a long-term ground lease signed on November 1st, facilitated in large part by Jim Reinhardsen of local real estate advisors Heartland.
“Skanska’s inspiring vision for our property will provide long-term value to support our philanthropic mission,” said Eli Almo, Samis’s executive board member involved in the transaction. “This vision will strengthen this most critical area of downtown Seattle, creating a long-lasting, memorable impact on the quality of life in our city’s business district.”
The planned project is a Class A office tower with approximately 725,000 square feet of leasable space featuring an active ground floor experience comprised of unique and accessible retail shops, restaurants and public spaces. Skanska will work collaboratively with the downtown community during the design and development process by organizing a series of roundtables and other forums to discuss how 2&U’s design could connect tenants, visitors and neighbors to civic and cultural amenities like the Seattle waterfront, Seattle Art Museum and the downtown transit tunnel.
“The location of 2&U is really at the seam of our city,” said Lisa Picard, executive vice president for Skanska USA Commercial Development in Seattle. “We want to create a fresh and compelling experience between the waterfront and the rest of downtown that invigorates the work environment for companies having, or seeking, an address in the core.”
Skanska’s team for 2&U includes New Haven, Connecticut-based architects Pickard Chilton, selected from a unique “design hack-a-thon” process that started with seven internationally recognized design firms. Pickard Chilton’s design submission reinforced Skanska’s vision by making a strong connection between the building’s form and the Northwest’s character. The preliminary design creates a network of pedestrian passages traversing the block through a forest-like base, while the tower above provides weather protection similar to the warmth and comfort of a tree canopy.
“We share Skanska’s aspirations for 2&U and are looking forward to working with the neighborhood to create a new and welcoming, communal destination representative of the region’s unique character.” said Principal William Chilton.
2&U is Skanska’s fourth development project in the Puget Sound region since commencing Seattle development operations in 2011. Skanska’s first commercial development in Seattle, Stone34, was completed in June and is fast becoming a Seattle landmark. Skanska is currently constructing 400 Fairview, a 14-story Class A office project including an open style retail market hall in South Lake Union. 400 Fairview will be the future headquarters of global retailer Tommy Bahama. Across Lake Washington in downtown Bellevue, Skanska is completing Alley 111, its first mixed-use urban multi-family development in the region.
Skanska USA Commercial Development, which launched in late 2008, is focused on the development of Class A commercial projects and is committed to delivering sustainable buildings. In addition to Seattle, Skanska also has commercial development groups in Washington D.C., Houston and Boston.