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SEATTLE -The University of Washington Board of Regents has approved a deal to lease South Lake Union’s former Washington Natural Gas building from Vulcan Inc., which will renovate the building into office and lab space for university biotech researchers.

The University of Washington has agreed to lease the 100,000-sf building on Mercer Street and Ninth Ave. A final lease agreement is in the works and may be signed by January 2003. The lease will also include an option to develop a second 260,000-sf building on the property for the university. UW School of Medicine researchers would move into the new space in early 2004.

The university has been looking to expand its biotech facilities in the area, where it currently leases the Rosen Building, at Terry Avenue North and Republican St. That facility was renovated several years ago by Vulcan and developer Schnitzer Northwest.

The former Washington Natural Gas building, at 815 Mercer St., is well known as the Blue Flame Building because of the giant neon, blue gas flame that sits on top of it. The flame was originally lit in 1964, but was dismantled when the gas company sold the building to Vulcan for $25 million. The flame will retire to a local museum.

According to sources, the lease details will not be released until the deal is finalized.

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