Even as Amazon builds out millions of square feet of new offices in the Seattle area to accommodate its rapidly expanding headcount, the online retail giant still appears to be hungry for more, GeekWire has learned.
Amazon is listed as the tenant in several permit documents for an interior renovation project at the former headquarters of Seattle insurance company Pemco at 301 Eastlake Ave. E., just blocks from the online retail giant’s home base in the South Lake Union neighborhood.
The structure is not a huge one, with two older, adjoining buildings totaling 168,300 square feet. But its location — right off Interstate 5 next door to REI’s flagship store — is one of the most visible in Seattle. It’s a site that gridlocked commuters going both north and south see everyday, potentially giving Amazon an even greater higher profile in the city.
It is unclear if Amazon wants to take the entire structure or just part of it. Amazon typically takes entire buildings when it can, and several different permitting documents detailing renovations on various floors list Amazon or Amazon officials as the tenant.
Amazon representatives declined to comment.
Pemco had been located on that block since 1949 until it made the decision to sell the property in 2015 to Unico Properties. Later that year, it landed in a new headquarters, just a few blocks away at 1300 Dexter Ave. N. Since then, Unico has been renovating the buildings, originally built in 1973 and 1981, respectively, to make them attractive to tech companies. Unico also changed the name to Yale & Thomas and redid the outside, removing the very visible Pemco logo and adding orange accents to the exterior.
The property has room to add another 500,000-square-foot building next door. There is little permitting activity at that site, so if Amazon or another company wants a new building there, it would still be a ways out.
Amazon’s dizzying growth has helped fuel a real estate boom in Seattle, for office buildings and apartments. In the last year Amazon has picked up several office buildings in Seattle, while also declaring its intentions to set up shop on the east side of Lake Washington with a big new Bellevue office. Those leases alone total more than 1.7 million square feet, about the same size as the company’s original headquarters footprint in South Lake Union.
All that activity comes as Amazon continues to add to its new campus in the Denny Triangle neighborhood. So far, Amazon has opened two office buildings in the area, but it is looking much further ahead than that. The company this year began teeing up plans for the fifth block of office buildings in the neighborhood.
By 2022, Amazon has said it could occupy 12 million square feet across 40 buildings in Seattle, up from 8.5 million square feet as of the middle of last year. With all the recent leases and new construction, it is already closing in on that figure.
And it’s not just Seattle where Amazon is growing. In Boston, Amazon just confirmed plans for a new office lease, with room for 900 people working on Alexa, shipping logistics and other departments, according to The Boston Globe.