By Meghan Hall
Amazon’s plans for growth are shifting, and the company has decided to let one of its original leases in Seattle lapse. By the end of the year, it plans to vacate its space at 2201 Westlake—totaling eight floors and 180,000 square feet—according to multiple news outlets. Amazon took space in the building, which it calls Amazon Varzea, a decade ago, making 2201 Westlake one of its first big leases in Seattle. The building is owned by American Realty, who purchased the asset in 2015 for $251 million.
Amazon will subsequently relocate 1,000 human resources employees currently at 2201 Westlake to other offices around the Puget Sound area. In a statement to the Seattle Times, Amazon said its office usage is “based on business needs, growth forecasts, access to talent, and feedback on what locations are convenient for our employees.”
The news comes after Amazon has made several shifts away from Seattle; in 2019, Amazon announced it would sublease 722,000 square feet of offices in Rainier Square Tower on Fifth Ave. The company then reversed its plans to take space in the building as the Seattle City Council debated the implementation of a head-tax, which would be levied on large employers in Seattle, including Amazon.
Amazon currently leases about 7 million square feet in Seattle and owns an additional 5.8 million square feet.
Most recently, Amazon announced that it has secured 2 million square feet in downtown Bellevue by leasing Vulcan’s 555 Tower and West Main assets. In the coming weeks, the company will begin the second phase of its Bellevue 600 project, a 27-story office tower designed by NBBJ. The project is expected to be completed by 2025 and will include additional retail and amenity space.
“Already under development, these projects will provide our teams with state-of-the-art office space, and the community with new amenities – such as public parks and retail space – to help fulfill the city’s vision of a thriving, connected, and pedestrian-friendly business district,” Amazon explained in its announcement. “Both sites are walking distance from the future Bellevue Downtown Station, scheduled to open in 2023 as part of Sound Transit’s East Link extension.”
Bellevue anticipates having 25,000 employees in downtown Bellevue by the middle of the decade, making the submarket a pivotal part of Amazon’s regional growth strategy. The company began leasing space in Bellevue in 2016, and has grown rapidly there since. Eventually, Amazon plans to locate its worldwide operations group and corporate division in Bellevue.
Across the greater United States, Amazon is working to fill 33,000 open corporate and technology jobs. About a fifth of those—around 6,600 positions—are open in Seattle.