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September 08, 2014

No nuance needed: Big expansion plans for communications company in downtown Seattle

Puget Sound Business Journal

Marc Stiles

Nuance Communications, a global company with 12,000 employees, is more than doubling the amount of space it occupies in downtown Seattle's historic Exchange Building.

Commercial real estate broker Rod Keefe of Kidder Mathews on Monday said that Nuance has signed a long-term lease for three more floors in the 22-story building at 821 Second Ave. This will give the company around 82,000 square feet in the building, where Nuance already occupies two floors, or about 30,000 square feet.

Given the history of the art-deco Exchange Building, it's a fitting place for the expansion of Nuance, which makes voice recognition and other operator-replacing products that people use when calling automated systems for information. That's because back in the day when phone calls were routed through operators, Pacific Northwest Bell had offices in the Exchange Building.

Nuance Communications spokeswoman Molly Kelley confirmed the expansion Monday. Due to time constraints of executives, the company was unavailable to comment further on its expansion plans in Seattle, where Keefe said the company also occupies 46,000 square feet in the 505 First Building in Pioneer Square.

The 85-year-old Exchange Building has a rich history. Noted architect John Graham, who designed the Nordstrom flagship store and the Seattle Macy's, designed the building that was constructed to house the Seattle Stock Exchange, which had just moved into the building when the New York stock market crashed in 1929. The phone company moved in later.

Boston-based Beacon Capital Partners bought the Exchange Building in 2013 and embarked on what the company said was "an expansive capital improvement project," that includes what a Beacon representative said is a voluntary seismic retrofit. That work is ongoing.

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