/Amazon grabs large downtown Bellevue property next to transit hub

Amazon grabs large downtown Bellevue property next to transit hub

Amazon is again adding to its real estate portfolio in Bellevue, this time acquiring a central parcel that could accommodate the tallest towers in the city across the street from a downtown transit hub and forthcoming light rail station.

The deal for the Bellevue Corporate Plaza property appears to give Amazon the opportunity to develop upward of 1.2 million square feet of new office space — more than it has leased in Bellevue already — and put its own architectural stamp on the skyline of the growing city where it plans to move thousands of employees over the next four years.

The property at 600 108th Ave. N.E., including an existing 10-story office building and an adjacent two-story, 650-stall parking structure, was sold to an Amazon subsidiary for $194.9 million, according to an excise tax affidavit dated Friday and filed with King County on Wednesday afternoon. The seller is a subsidiary of Chicago-based real estate investment trust Equity Commonwealth. The buyer is Acorn Development, which shares a principal office address with Amazon.

The property’s assessed value is $127 million.

The Puget Sound Business Journal, citing unnamed sources, first reported the deal on Tuesday. An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.

Earlier this month, Amazon confirmed it was moving Seattle employees of its worldwide operations organization to Bellevue over the next four years.

The company’s growing Eastside footprint follows a familiar strategy for area tech employers looking to attract workers who would rather not commute across Lake Washington. Amazon also has praised the business climate in Bellevue, a not-so-subtle jab at Seattle City Hall, with which it has clashed.

Formed in a Bellevue house nearly 25 years ago, Amazon continues to grow in Seattle, with 2 million square feet of space under construction and more than 10,300 job openings. It listed more than 500 openings in Bellevue.

In the April 3 email to employees, Dave Clark, Amazon senior vice president of worldwide operations, described “an urban campus in downtown Bellevue where employees will all be within walking distance of each other and have easy access to public transit.”

Amazon has knitted up leases for about 1 million square feet of space in existing or planned Bellevue buildings, mostly along Northeast Fourth Street.

The Bellevue Corporate Plaza property alone — which appears to be Amazon’s first purchase in the city — could accommodate at least that much, depending on how Amazon develops it.

Equity Commonwealth had planned to build a 34-story office building and a 41-story hotel beside the existing 10-story office building.

Bellevue zoning now allows buildings as tall as 600 feet in this part of downtown. If Amazon were to raze the existing tower — built in 1980 and renovated in 2016 — to max out the development site, it could conceivably put up multiple office towers of 40 stories or more with room for several thousand employees.

About 1,000 employees were expected to move to Bellevue beginning this month, joining some 700 already there. Clark said in the employee email that additional moves will happen early in 2021, with teams notified about a year in advance, and the entire move — several thousand jobs, including future operations hires — to be completed by the end of 2023.

Bellevue Mayor John Chelminiak said earlier this month that the city is anticipating a net influx of about 2,500 new jobs as Amazon employees move in and employees of other companies, such as Expedia, move to Seattle.