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UPDATE, APRIL 24, 3:30 P.M.:  After months of speculation, a deal to make Amazon the new owner of a key development site in downtown Bellevue, Wash., where it is rapidly growing its presence, has closed.

The tech giant paid $194.9 million for the 3.5 acre parcel 600 108th Ave. N.E., per records filed with King County today. It is unclear what Amazon is going to build on the site and it has not commented on it.

Original story with more detail below

Amazon’s growth in its original hometown of Bellevue, Wash. is getting a major boost.

The tech giant is close to purchasing a prime development site in downtown Bellevue that may eventually become a centerpiece of the tech giant’s rapidly growing footprint there. Amazon has not submitted any plans for the site 600 108th Ave. N.E., but a previous plan there called for a pair of towers, including a 41-story high-rise office.

A real estate source who is not involved in the transaction told GeekWire that Amazon has put down a deposit for the site, and that the deal could close as soon as this week. GeekWire reported in February that Amazon was the front-runner to buy the site, and the Puget Sound Business Journal reported earlier this week that a deal will close soon.

Amazon declined to comment.

In February, GeekWire spoke with a source who worked with several other groups interested in buying the site and saw the potential for an iconic building similar to Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. The site is on top of a future light rail station, and it could serve as a hub connecting Amazon’s offices in both Seattle and Bellevue.

A pair of towers could rise out of the development site Amazon is buying. (NBBJ Rendering)

Amazon opened its first Bellevue office building in 2017. In less than two years, the company’s footprint has multiplied to more than 1 million square feet, not counting this new development site.

GeekWire reported earlier this month that Amazon plans relocate its entire Seattle-based worldwide operations team to Bellevue by 2023, adding thousands of employees to the growing campus. The migration adds weight to the theory that Amazon is shifting its focus to Bellevue and other cities across the country amid ongoing tensions between the tech giant and Seattle.

Worldwide operations is one of the most critical teams at Amazon, the arm responsible for getting packages to customers’ doors. It oversees more than 175 operating fulfillment centers around the world and the 250,000 employees who work there. The team also manages Amazon’s thousands of delivery truck trailers and its fleet of 40 airplanes. New logistics initiatives, like Amazon’s “Delivery Service Partners” program, also fall under the worldwide operations purview.

Amazon has about 700 employees in Bellevue and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters. It would take some time for Amazon’s Bellevue team to grow to a size that rivals Seattle, but moving the worldwide operations team is a big step in that direction.

At the rate Amazon is scooping up real estate, the Bellevue headcount should grow rapidly. Amazon has been linked to several new planned projects, including a pair being developed by Vulcan Real Estate, the development firm founded by the late Paul Allen that built Amazon’s Seattle campus.

Bellevue was Amazon’s original birthplace, but CEO Jeff Bezos moved the company’s headquarters to Seattle’s urban core early on. If Amazon continues to expand at this rate in Bellevue, it could mean that after searching across the country, Amazon’s HQ2 was its original home all along.

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