Amazon will pause Bellevue towers to study impact of hybrid work on its offices, still plans 25k jobs

Amazon will build out the shell and core of the planned 43-story Tower 1 at Bellevue 600, depicted at left in this architectural rendering, before pausing construction. It will wait to start construction on the 31-story Tower 2, at right.  (NBBJ Rendering)

Citing ongoing uncertainty about the impact of hybrid work on its office designs, Amazon says it will pause construction on five towers in downtown Bellevue, Wash., and hold off, for now, on construction of a sixth new tower in the city.

The company says it wants to determine how its office floorplans need to change before proceeding.

The decision underscores the dynamic and uncertain status of the tech industry’s return to the office after more than two years of working from home due to the pandemic. Some companies are seeing employees continuing to work from home more than previously expected, causing them to reconsider their mix of private offices and shared workspaces.

Amazon says it still plans to ultimately employ 25,000 people in the city east of Seattle, where the company has signaled plans to focus most of its future growth in what it considers its Puget Sound headquarters region.

The company provided this statement from John Schoettler, its vice president of global real estate and facilities.

“The pandemic has significantly changed the way people work. For our corporate and tech roles, we’ve adopted a hybrid model that offers employees increased flexibility – each team decides the balance between in-office and remote work that makes sense for them. It’s early days and like many companies, we’re still learning how these new habits may impact our office footprint. Our offices are long-term investments and we want to make sure that we design them in a way that meets our employees’ needs in the future. As we continue to learn, we’re pausing construction to reevaluate the design of some of our projects in Bellevue. This doesn’t affect our plans to bring more than 25,000 jobs to the city, or our commitment to continuing to invest in and engage with the community—including providing affordable housing and supporting local nonprofits.”

The decision to pause construction was reported earlier Thursday by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

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In response to GeekWire’s questions, an Amazon spokesperson said the company has no current plans to cancel any leases. The company currently has about 10,000 corporate and tech employees in seven offices in Bellevue.

Amazon’s current and planned projects in Bellevue, Wash. (Click for larger image.)

The company says it will complete the core and exterior shell (in addition to lobby floors, communal areas, and retail spaces) before pausing construction on these buildings:

  • Towers 2 and 3 at West Main, a three-building, half-block project at 117 106th Avenue NE, developed by Vulcan Real Estate. (Amazon says it will fully complete Tower 1 at West Main).
  • 555Tower, at 555 108th Street, a 42-story, 1 million-square-foot project that Vulcan Real Estate is constructing and leasing to Amazon. The company says it will complete the lower working floors (through the 19th floor) at 555Tower. The building was previously slated for completion and occupancy in 2023.
  • The Artise, at 788 106th Ave NE, a planned 600,000-square-foot, 25 story building leased from Schnitzer West. It had been scheduled to open in 2024.
  • The 43-story Tower 1 at Bellevue 600, a project slated to be the central hub of Amazon’s Bellevue operations.

The 3.5-acre Bellevue 600 site runs from 110th Avenue NE to 108th Avenue NE, near the Bellevue Transit Center and a future Link Light Rail stop. Amazon is holding off, for now, on construction of the 31-story Tower 2 at Bellevue 600

Amazon isn’t providing timelines for pausing or ultimately restarting work on the Bellevue towers, or saying how the decision will impact planned occupancy dates.

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