Amazon, which originally started out of Jeff Bezos’ Bellevue, Wash., garage before permanently planting its flag in Seattle, is poised to open a huge new office in the city where it was born.
The tech giant has completed a lease for all 354,000 square feet of office space at Schnitzer West’s Centre 425 project in downtown Bellevue, according to multiple commercial real estate sources who spoke to GeekWire on condition of anonymity. In addition, a quarterly report today from real estate brokerage Broderick Group reported Amazon has secured “a pending lease of Schnitzer West’s 425 Centre,” which is under construction at 425 106th Ave. N.E.
Chatter about the company’s interest in Bellevue has percolated for months, and it was coupled with rumors that Apple was also interested in taking a big chunk of space there.
Amazon declined to comment on the Bellevue lease.
It is unclear why Amazon is establishing a presence east of Lake Washington. The company recently accommodated employees on the Eastside by creating a new commuter shuttle pilot program with stops in Bellevue, Redmond and Issaquah to bring people to its Seattle campus. This could be another step in that direction. Or it could be an attempt to pick off talent from Expedia, where many employees are looking at longer commute times once the company moves from Bellevue to the Seattle waterfront in 2019.
Though traditionally thought of as a suburb, Bellevue, and its downtown especially, has grown rapidly. Today it rivals Seattle in some respects with the amount of cranes dotting the skyline. Bellevue boasts a roster of headquartered companies that would make many big cities jealous, including Expedia — for at least a couple more years — T-Mobile, Concur and Paccar, among others.
Amazon in 2007 announced plans to construct an 11-building headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. Schnitzer West was actually one of the developers — along with Vulcan Real Estate — that worked on Amazon’s first South Lake Union buildings. The decision went against the grain, as many other tech companies at the time had established huge, isolated headquarters in the suburbs.
Bezos has called Amazon’s decision to develop its campus in the city of Seattle, rather than the suburbs, an environmentally-friendly approach and “a very attractive feature for some of our employees” who want to live in the urban core.
Amazon’s urban presence kickstarted development in the South Lake Union neighborhood, and now the same thing is happening around its new campus in the Denny Triangle, a neighborhood just to the south. Right now, Amazon occupies 8.5 million square feet in Seattle, and by 2022, that number could be 12 million.
Other companies, especially in Seattle, have followed Amazon’s lead and invested in urban locations. Facebook and Google have both established big presences in Seattle, and Apple has a small office in downtown Seattle.
Amazon is one of several tech companies to scoop up big chunks of office space in new Bellevue buildings recently. In August, Valve agreed to take nine floors in a new office building in the Lincoln Square expansion, and WeWork is heavily rumored as a possible tenant as well. Last year, Salesforce leased a 75,000-square-foot space in the 929 Office Tower in Bellevue, doubling its regional presence and turning the Seattle area into its largest engineering hub outside of its San Francisco headquarters.
Prior to the recession, Microsoft was the big real estate driver, gobbling up pretty much all available space for workers who preferred the downtown experience versus its insulated Redmond campus.