Defining Moments 2015: The Development and Land Assemblage of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

On Wednesday, December 16, attendees of the monthly Breakfast meeting were treated to our 4th annual “Defining Moments” program, which focused on the Development and Land Assemblage of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The breakfast was sponsored by Clark Construction - we sincerely thank them for their continued support. Sharon Coleman gave the assembly an update on the new members. We viewed a wonderful video presentation on the Community Enhancement project at YMCA’s Camp Terry and received heartfelt thanks from the YMCA. We also got an update on the Real Estate Challenge. Our neighbors to the south – Portland State University – will be in the challenge this year, along with University of British Columbia and University of Washington.

Cleita Harvey pinch hit as moderator and did a wonderful job! The panelists were:

  • William Justen, Principal, The Justen Company, LLC
  • James Klinger, SVP, Kidder Mathews
  • Randy Main, VP and CFO, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

For me and a lot of attendees, this program had its own defining moment when Randy stated that there would be a cure for cancer within 10 years. Godspeed Hutch!

Cleita asked the panel for some background on the drivers behind the need for the Hutch to find more space. Randy related how they were out of physical space in 1988 and even though they owned land on First Hill, near their location at the time, more space was needed than the land could provide. William spoke of how he had retired from the City of Seattle and was looking for new opportunities. Jim met William at an event and they spoke of what the Hutch needed. A team was born!

A location in Fremont looked promising, but soon the South Lake Union / Eastlake area was settled on. This was a very complicated process as the Hutch did not have the credit line necessary for the land acquisition and federal grant rules made leasing the preferred option. William spoke of how the team dealt with that situation by having the developer purchase the land and lease back to the Hutch. The first 20 parcels of land were purchased under these guidelines.

Randy spoke of how it soon became apparent that the lease-back was not going to work and the Hutch enlisted the support of Sen. Slade Gorton and Admiral Elmo Zumwalt to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance the acquisition and construction.

Both William and Jim told several anecdotes about how varying pieces of the property were purchased. William also spoke of how in 1988 the purchase was priced at $55 per square foot. The last deal that was closed in 2015 was valued at $900 per square foot.

Randy spoke to how this campus and most importantly the employees have led Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to incredible breakthroughs and said that he learned this fundamental lesson: People who are passionate and willing to work hard can make anything happen!

This program related the story of how the largest assemblage of land since the 1962 World’s Fair was accomplished in the City of Seattle. The risks and challenges were tremendous. The importance to everyone in the audience is even more tremendous as we all are touched by this terrible disease and by the Hutch’s efforts to find a cure.

The meeting was adjourned with the ceremonial passing of the gavel from outgoing President Sharon Coleman to new President John Teutsch. We sincerely thank Sharon for her care, compassion and service. We welcome John and wish him the very best.

Click here to download the slide presentation from this meeting. 

This article was written by NAIOP Washington State member Edward Scherer, Account Executive, Avidex Industries, LLC.

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