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A rendering of the Maritime Building, where Big Fish Games is moving its headquarters. Credit: NBBJ
A rendering of the Maritime Building, where Big Fish Games is moving its headquarters. Credit: NBBJ

Big Fish has reeled in a new headquarters. The mobile gaming company, which was acquired by Kentucky Derby operator Churchill Downs Inc. in 2014 for $885 million, announced Wednesday that it will move from its current waterfront home to downtown Seattle, near the Pioneer Square neighborhood.

In 2018, Big Fish will move into the Maritime Building at 911 Western Ave., which is in the middle of a restoration and addition project. Big Fish would not say how much space it is taking, but real estate sources put the number at 187,000 square feet, which represents the entire office portion of the structure. The ground floor will have space for retail and restaurants.

The move represents a big expansion for Big Fish, which today calls the 333 Elliott West building home. Last year it expanded to take the entire 137,500-square-foot building, which used to be home to Classmates.com.

Maritime Building owner Beacon Capital Partners is in the process of planning an addition to the 105-year-old structure that would add a pair of floors, giving it a total of seven, as well as a top floor “amenity pavilion.” Renovation work on that project is underway, and it should be done in Spring 2018.

Big Fish representatives said the Maritime building fit the company culture better than some of the new high rises going up in downtown Seattle.

“During our real estate search, we realized that Big Fish’s unique and creative culture is not compatible with a corporate, high-rise building,” said Evan Cottingham, Big Fish’s director of real estate and facilities. “When looking to expand, restoring a historic Seattle building in an area that is itself being revitalized is more consistent with the entrepreneurial spirit and values of the company.”

Big Fish Games' current headquarters at 333 Elliott in Seattle.
Big Fish Games’ current headquarters at 333 Elliott in Seattle.

Allison Fadden and Trevor Clark of Suite Partners represented Big Fish in the deal.

Moving downtown gives Big Fish employees better transportation options, something many companies value, as evidenced by Weyerhaeuser’s move from Federal Way to Pioneer Square. In addition, it gets them out of the way of the potential traffic crunch of Expedia’s move from downtown Bellevue, Wash., to the Seattle Waterfront. When the travel giant comes in 2019, it will bring thousands of employees, and cars, to the neighborhood, likely snarling traffic and making for tougher commutes for its neighbors.

“This new location will significantly improve the commuting experience for the majority of our workforce,” Omar Amin, senior vice president of operations for Big Fish, said in a statement. “We are excited about the new home for Big Fish and the positive impact it will have on our employees.”

Big Fish’s acquisition by Churchill Downs was a surprise at the time. Big Fish specializes in mobile and casino games, something Churchill Downs saw a lot of potential in.

“This investment in our people furthers our ability to excel in this rapidly growing industry,” Bill Carstanjen CEO of Churchill Downs said in a statement. “We are excited to be in the Seattle market and are committed to expand in the capabilities that will drive future growth.”

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