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Amazon has leased this building in Seattle’s SoDo district, property records show. (GeekWire Photo)

A nondescript building in the industrial district south of downtown Seattle is the latest evidence of Amazon’s insatiable appetite for real estate in its hometown — and its desire for secrecy.

A blueprint shows the location of the project in gray. Source: City of Seattle Department of Planning & Development.
A blueprint shows the location of the project in gray. Source: City of Seattle Department of Planning & Development.

The e-commerce giant has quietly leased a 17,500-square foot building in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood, at 6th Avenue and Holgate Street, according to property records uncovered by GeekWire.

The company’s plans for the space aren’t clear, and Amazon representatives haven’t responded to GeekWire’s requests for comment. The building and location, close to Interstates 5 and 90, could be a logical home for some kind of distribution center. Clues in the planning documents support that possibility, without providing a definitive answer.

Initial blueprints for the renovation at 1926 6th Ave. S. show tables and what appear to be shelving units in an area of the building designated “Storage/Processing,” with an adjacent area labeled “Open Processing,” next to an existing bank of loading docks.

Amazon has been aggressively building out its own shipping and logistics infrastructure, including its own fleet of truck trailers, and the company has been known to pilot new initiatives in its hometown, in close proximity to CEO Jeff Bezos and other top executives. Recent examples include the company’s bookstore at Seattle’s University Village, which was also shrouded in secrecy until it was publicly announced.

One public document associated with the 6th & Holgate lease was signed by Amazon’s global real estate director, John Schoettler, not a lower-level manager, an indication that the initiative has the attention of people at the highest levels of the company.

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Looking east across Sixth Avenue to the front entrance of the building. (GeekWire Photo)

Some preliminary construction and electrical work is already under way inside the space. Documents filed with the city refer repeatedly to the project and tenant as “M.U.G.” without any mention of Amazon or indication of what the acronym means. Representatives of the tenant have asked the city to change the designated use of the space from retail to light industrial.

The building was previously home to a Moe’s Home Collection furniture showroom. People at adjacent businesses in the 6th & Holgate complex say they’ve heard rumors that Amazon is moving in next door, but they haven’t been given any concrete details.

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Click for larger version. Source: City of Seattle Department of Planning & Development.

Citing a non-disclosure agreement, a property manager for the facility declined to comment or acknowledge that Amazon is moving in, despite references to the Amazon lease in public property records dating back to July. The architect on the project couldn’t be reached.

Amazon has been opening distribution centers in Seattle and other cities for its Prime Now one- and two-hour delivery service, but previous blueprints for a Prime Now facility north of downtown Seattle referred to that initiative by name.

It’s also possible that Amazon is considering another type of use entirely. For example, Nordstrom previously had a photo studio in the space, and still uses an adjacent building in the 6th & Holgate complex.

Whatever its plans for the space, the new initiative represents a bit of a homecoming for Amazon. Its original warehouse, in the early days of the company, was located just a few blocks west of the 6th & Holgate building.

Amazon, headquartered in Seattle’s South Lake neighborhood, is expanding to a new three-block complex north of downtown Seattle, and has already opened the first tower and meeting center in that new development. The company is also making plans to redevelop additional blocks to the north of that new complex.

Note: Reference to Nordstrom corrected since original post.

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