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Expedia bought the old Amgen campus on the Seattle waterfront with plans to move its headquarters there in 2019. (GeekWire Photo)

Expedia isn’t coming to Seattle until 2019, but crews have already begun demolishing old lab space at the company’s future 40-acre Seattle waterfront campus.

Last year Expedia announced it was re-locating its headquarters from Bellevue to Seattle, paying biotech giant Amgen $229 million for its prized waterfront campus on Elliott Bay. The company will go from a vertical headquarters in a Bellevue skyscraper to a campus closer to the feel of a Google or Apple HQ that happens to be just minutes from downtown. Expedia will renovate the old Amgen lab buildings and build a couple new structures to accommodate its growing workforce.

An Expedia spokeswoman confirmed that the company has also opened a smaller Seattle office near the new campus as part of a “Test & Learn” strategy to prepare for the move.

Expedia is still putting together plans for much of the campus, which will be built out in phases over a 15-year process. On Wednesday, the city of Seattle released a final environmental impact statement for the campus, a document that considers the project’s environmental impacts and how they can best be mitigated.

Originally, Expedia’s initial buildout plan included redeveloping four lab buildings on the former Amgen site and building a new 600,000-square-foot structure on the campus. That would give Expedia a total of about 1.2 million square feet when it moves in 2019. But the company on a quarterly earnings call over the summer said it is scaling back what it wants to have in place when the move occurs. The scaled back plan still includes redeveloping the existing lab buildings by 2019 but holding off on the new structure for now. Expedia has said it is focused on building out the space it needs for the 2019 move and will re-examine future needs later.

“Consistent with our test and learn culture, we’re taking a phased approach to our move-in that will allow us to transition our 3,500 employees in Bellevue to the new Seattle campus, with full occupancy by 2019,” Expedia said in a statement in July. “We’ll update the existing buildings for high-tech office use and add new buildings as additional capacity is needed.”

If Expedia does decide to add the new 600,000-square-foot building by 2019, construction could begin in the spring, according to the environmental document.

The campus is being designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and built by GLY Construction.

Expedia also has eventual plans for “Phase II” and “Phase III” that could expand the campus to 1.9 million square feet and accommodate up to approximately 8,000 employees. These phases are part of the major phased development permit that Expedia is pursuing from the city, which looks at the campus over a 15-year timeframe. That process could be completed in January or February, the Expedia spokeswoman said.

It is unclear how the later phases will be affected by Expedia’s decision to potentially scale back its 2019 plans. Expedia cautioned in the environmental document that all future phases of the project are still in the planning process and nothing is set in stone at this point.

“There is no way of determining with any certainty at this stage of the project when subsequent phases may occur, the number of phases, the boundaries of such phases, or the extent of development within each phase,” Expedia wrote in the document.

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