Over the past two years, Amazon has been quietly acquiring real estate in downtown Bellevue. As of now, the gargantuan tech company owns approximately 1 million square feet of corporate space in Bellevue and intends to build their largest tower yet, which would become Bellevue’s largest skyscraper.
This comes five months after Amazon’s HQ2 proposal was rejected by New York City due to public outcry. New Yorkers took to the streets out of fear that Amazon would displace long-time residents and raise housing prices. After the HQ2 fiasco, Amazon announced their worldwide operations team would move from Seattle to Bellevue.
At the same time, many Amazon employees from different departments learned their jobs are slowly being shifted to the Bellevue area. An email sent from Dave Clark, Amazon senior vice president of worldwide operations, said, “Our vision is to create an urban campus in downtown Bellevue where employees will all be within walking distance of each other and have easy access to public transit.”
Through a public records request, GeekWire was able to access early plans that have been filed to the city for a 49-story skyscraper, which is a part of the “Bellevue 600” project. The plans also mention the potential for a second tower to be built right next to the first.
The “Bellevue 600” project is being constructed directly in front of the new light rail station that should be completed by 2023. The pre-application also proposes public plazas that would surround the tower, and a connection to a new pedestrian path. This would run from the eastside rail corridor to the city’s downtown and waterfront.
An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement, “We look forward to growing our presence in Bellevue and bringing thousands of jobs to the city. This includes employees already based in Bellevue, new hires, and the move of some Global Operations teams currently based in Seattle to accommodate for continued expansion of other teams in our South Lake Union campus.”
Amazon has also stated that they are not abandoning their campus in Seattle. However, they have stopped their efforts to fully occupy the Rainier Square skyscraper. Instead they are now subleasing the leftover space to another company.
According to predictions by the Seattle Times, the “Bellevue 600” project will be able to hold approximately eleven thousand employees. Amazon anticipates that the tower will be completed in 2024.
Photograph by Jamling Sherpa / The Watchdog