Amazon halts work at Bellevue

Amid a continued shift to hybrid working, Amazon is suspending some construction at its Bellevue campus.

As employees continue to work from home and the company continues to assess what its presence in the office will look like in the future, Amazon said this week that it is changing its building plans in order to experiment and reimagine the configuration of its traditional working floors.

“Our offices are long-term investments, and we want to make sure we design them to meet the future needs of our employees,” said John Schoettler, vice president of Global Real Estate and Facilities at Amazon. “As we continue to learn, we are pausing construction to re-evaluate designs for some of our projects in Bellevue.”

The announcement comes just weeks after Amazon highlighted its growth in Bellevue, writing in a June blog post that it was on track to hit the milestone of 10,000 workers this summer. The Eastside is “where the majority of our growth is going forward,” Guy Palumbo, Amazon’s director of public policy for HQ1, told The Seattle Times last month.

Amazon said Friday that its decision to suspend construction does not change its stated commitment to create 25,000 jobs in the Eastside by 2025.

The projects on hold include parts of the largest ongoing office developments in the area – Vulcan Tower 555, West Main and Bellevue 600 – according to a recent report by commercial real estate firm Kidder Mathews. Together, the three projects total nearly 3 million square feet.

Amazon said it would still complete the “core and shell” of most of these projects, as well as the lobby, common areas and retail spaces. These projects include Tower 555, Towers 2 and 3 at West Main, Tower 1 at Bellevue 600, and The Artiste.

In the 42-story Tower 555, Amazon will complete working floors up to the 19th level, but is suspending construction plans for the second tower at Bellevue 600.

“The pandemic has dramatically changed the way people work,” Schoettler said. “For our business and technology roles, we have adopted a hybrid model that provides employees with increased flexibility – each team decides the balance between working in the office and working remotely that suits them.”

“We’re just getting started, and like many businesses, we’re still learning how these new habits can impact our office footprint.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the return to the office, companies have so far retained office space in Bellevue.

The office vacancy rate is 5.5%, the lowest in the region, according to Kidder Mathews.

Inflation, labor shortages and other challenges are also weighing on the construction industry. Kidder Mathews noted in his analysis of the office market that while more office projects are planned, “many Seattle developers are waiting to see how market conditions develop.”

With around 55,000 workers, Seattle is still Amazon’s largest campus. The company plans to create 25,000 jobs at its second headquarters in Crystal City, Va., as well as at its Bellevue site. Amazon’s other 18 North American tech hubs together have 65,000 employees.

Seattle Times reporter Heidi Groover contributed reporting.

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