Amazon’s Seattle presence totaled about 640,000 square feet when John Schoettler, director of global real estate and facilities, started with the company in 2001. Fifteen years later, Amazon now occupies 34 buildings and approximately 8.5 million square feet in Seattle, Schoettler said.
And by 2022, six years from now, the online retail giant could take up close to 12 million square feet across 40 buildings in Seattle.
“I have to tell you that I could never, ever have imagined that,” Schoettler acknowledged Thursday during the Washington chapter of NAIOP’s annual property tour, speaking with real estate professionals about the company’s growth and future plans in the city.
Schoettler was careful to note that things are always subject to change, but if Amazon fills all 12 million square feet, that would translate to more than 20 percent of the office inventory in Seattle today.
In 2005, Schoettler said he began examining the company’s future real estate needs, and founder Jeff Bezos made one thing clear: he wanted to stay in Seattle. Construction on Amazon’s first South Lake Union building began three years later, in 2008. A few years after that, Amazon had leased about 1.7 million square feet in the neighborhood. That was supposed to meet the company’s needs until 2016.
Discussions about buying land in the Denny Triangle, where Amazon is building its new campus, began internally in 2011. Amazon had never developed anything on its own, but the company was growing and needed somewhere to put its people. It bought three blocks in the Denny Triangle from Clise Properties for $207.5 million in late 2012. The company managed to get master use permits for all three blocks in less than a year, no easy feat in Seattle. Amazon later purchased a fourth block, where permit records show it is planning to build approximately 860,000 square feet.