Amazon opened its first office in Bellevue, Wash., a little more than two years ago. A dizzying expansion followed, multiplying the tech giant’s presence in Bellevue and changing the face of the rapidly growing city 10 miles east of Seattle.
The company now controls approximately 2.89 million square feet of current and future office space, all in the downtown area, according to a quarterly report from real estate firm Broderick Group. That includes several buildings Amazon leased and land it bought with plans for future projects.
Playing an important role in this growth is a decision to move thousands of Seattle-based employees from the critical worldwide operations team to Bellevue in a major organizational shift. Amazon started re-locating employees last year and expects the entire team to be in Bellevue by 2023.
Amazon’s growth in Seattle over the last decade-plus powered an ongoing real estate boom in the city, and it appears the same dynamic is at play in Bellevue. Broderick Group notes that Amazon’s real estate activity alone could increase downtown Bellevue’s total office inventory by 20 to 30 percent.
Here’s a look at Amazon’s Bellevue footprint:
- In August 2017, Amazon started moving into its first Bellevue office building: 425 Centre, a 16-story, nearly 357,000-square-foot tower.
- Expedia is giving up its Bellevue high-rise building as it moves to its new Seattle campus, so Amazon stepped in. The tech giant will occupy the 400,000-square-foot Tower 333 building later this year.
- Amazon leased Summit III, a 370,000-square-foot project first conceived more than a decade ago prior to the recession but put on ice when the economy went south.
- Amazon scooped up a 715,000-square-foot project called Binary Towers last year. Construction started over the summer, and the two-tower project is scheduled to open in 2022.
- Amazon is planning a 850,000-square-foot office building on a prime site it bought last year for $195 million. Public records obtained by GeekWire show Amazon filed preliminary plans for a “Phase II” that would replace the existing 225,000-square-foot Bellevue Corporate Plaza on the site. However, Amazon has renewed several leases for that building, a sign that it will remain intact for the time being.
Amazon’s move into Bellevue is somewhat of a homecoming — Bellevue was actually its original birthplace. CEO Jeff Bezos moved the company’s headquarters out of his garage and to Seattle’s urban core early on.
The retail giant turned its attention to Bellevue at the same time it butted heads with Seattle’s City Council over the so-called “head tax” on the city’s largest employers. Amazon had been on a leasing and construction spree throughout the first half of the decade. But the tech giant hasn’t scooped up any new space in its home city in a few years as it builds out a new Seattle campus and even decided to give back one of its most high-profile buildings.
Amazon’s growth in Bellevue is another example of the tech giant spreading out its resources. There’s also HQ2 in Northern Virginia and Amazon’s network of engineering outposts around the U.S. However, despite all this growth around the nation, Seattle remains the mothership, with Amazon holding close to 13 million square feet of current and future space — more than four times its Bellevue footprint — housing more than 50,000 employees.