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SEATTLE-Washington Mutual and the Seattle Art Museum have formalized their $300-million agreement to develop separate buildings totaling 1.2 million sf on the same block in Downtown Seattle.

The joint venture development is planned for the northern two-thirds of the block bounded by First and Second avenues and Union and University streets. The southern third of the block is the existing Seattle Art Museum building. The project site is currently occupied by a parking structure and the Museum Plaza/Arcade Building, which are jointly owned and operated by the museum and the Museum Development Authority.

The project will result in a new 42-story, 890,000-sf office tower for Washington Mutual on the easternmost portion of the site and a new 12-story, 335,000-sf building for the Seattle Art Museum that will connect to the existing museum. Both structures will be built on an underground parking garage that will hold 710 vehicles on six levels. Construction is expected to begin in early 2004 and end in 2006.

NBBJ is the bank’s design architect and the executive architect for SAM’s project. SAM’s design architect is Portland, OR-based Allied Works Architecture. The joint venture has applied for a Master Use Permit and the draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be published in June, according to Matt Griffin, managing partner of Pine Street Group LLC., the project’s developer, along with The Seneca Real Estate Group. Both firms are based in Seattle.

Design details and images of the project will be released later this summer after completion of the city’s design review process. Generally, the new bank building will front on Second Avenue with street-level office lobby and retail uses. The SAM component will front on First Avenue and connect internally to the existing museum. SAM initially expects to occupy the ground floor and two levels of public and gallery space in the expansion. The rest of the space will be subleased to Washington Mutual until it is needed, according to the agreement.

Washington Mutual currently occupies about 1.3 million sf of office space in Downtown Seattle in about one dozen buildings. With this new development, the company hopes to consolidate into a smaller number of buildings. Washington Mutual is Seattle’s only Fortune 100 company.

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