The Old Immunex Headquarters, 51 University St., Being Reinvented Once More

11/9/11Follow @xconomy

The old waterfront warehouse that Immunex gutted and turned into Seattle’s biotech hotspot in the 1980s and 1990s is being transformed once again. This time, it’s being turned into a modern office building, with a whisky distillery on the ground floor.

The building at 51 University Street was acquired earlier this year by Sam Zell’s Equity Residential, and has been geared to attract a mix of new office and retail tenants, says Jeff Huntington, a vice president at Kidder Mathews who’s handling the office leasing. All the old equipment at 51 University has been cleared out, leaving the 13-foot ceilings and columns exposed, Huntington says. Floors two through six are still open for lease, although a whisky distillery recently inked a deal to occupy the first floor, Huntington says.

Immunex grew far beyond its roots at 51 University and eventually had space in 11 buildings in Seattle before it started consolidating at the Helix campus along Elliott Bay, now occupied by Amgen. But as I’m getting ready for our next event, The Immunex Impact, I’m reminded about how so many memories of biotech’s exciting early days are attached to this address.

The new 51 University St. isn’t being set up for biotech anymore, but rather is being geared for tech companies or other creative companies, Huntington says. The building, as Immunoids remember well, stands next to the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Quite a few of the offices have views that peek through the Viaduct to Elliott Bay, and some even look over the elevated freeway. But as the Viaduct is slated for demolition in 2016, those views of Elliott Bay will be a lot clearer.

“Some of the floors have very good views today,” Huntington says. “And some marginal views that will get phenomenally better in five years.”

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