The office market in Bellevue, Wash., is primed for major change with Amazon’s recent announcement of its intention to create more than 15,000 new jobs in the suburban Seattle town over the next few years. The e-commerce giant is already developing and leasing millions of square feet of space in the city to accommodate growth.
READ ALSO: Seattle Office Report – Fall 2019
Seattle-headquartered Amazon opened its first office building in Bellevue in 2017, leasing the 354,000-square-foot Centre 425 tower in its entirety. That was just the beginning; the company has since taken space in various office buildings across the city, including Hines’ approximately 347,200-square-foot Summit III development, which Amazon preleased in late 2018. Among Amazon’s most recent office expansion endeavors is the NBBJ-designed Bellevue 600, the tech leader’s 1 million-square-foot skyscraper project. “This will be the tallest building in Bellevue and is a clear harbinger of positive things to come,” Tim O’Keefe, executive managing director with Newmark Knight Frank, told Commercial Property Executive. “From what I’ve heard, this location will include the company’s operations team, which is migrating to Bellevue from Seattle over the next couple of years. The impact of what this means cannot be overstated; it will be significant to our economy, infrastructure, transportation and image.”
As of the close of the fourth quarter of 2019, Amazon had firm commitments for approximately 3.5 million square feet of office space in Bellevue’s central business district, according to a report by Kidder Mathews. Amazon’s announcement of its plan to add 15,000 positions in Bellevue comes roughly one year after the company partnered with the city’s urbanists, planners and real estate professionals to outline the expansion. For both owned and leased office square footage, Amazon’s requirements are the same. The company, as noted in a press release on the new jobs, has conceived its Bellevue offices with a focus on easily accessible public transportation, sustainability and placemaking, asserting that the vision is much like the City of Bellevue’s idea for a well-connected, walkable and diverse 18-hour CBD. “The way I see it, Bellevue has become the focal point of this [Puget Sound] region,” O’Keefe said.
Amazon has already begun to change the face of Bellevue’s office sector. “The Eastside, and Bellevue specifically, is in the midst of a massive transformation due to the explosive growth of the world’s leading technology companies. What was once a market exclusively reliant on Microsoft has now evolved into a diverse mix of marquis tenants led by Amazon,” Grant Yerke, principal with commercial real estate services firm Broderick Group, told CPE. Google’s footprint in Bellevue, for example, includes an 80,000-square-foot space it leased at the One Twelfth at Twelfth office campus in 2018. Facebook will have 650,000 square feet of space at Block 16 and Block 6 in Bellevue’s Spring District. Microsoft occupies two entire buildings totaling 750,000 square feet at the city’s mixed-use Bravern development.
“The technology tenant growth coupled with the burgeoning Bel-Red rezone and imminent light rail expansion will make Greater Bellevue unrecognizable in five years,” Yerke added. “Bellevue is more business friendly than Seattle, its population is more ethnically diverse and educated, and it generally doesn’t suffer from the same socioeconomic challenges that are widespread in Seattle.”