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February 7, 2020

More details emerge for 2-tower Amazon development in Bellevue

Real Estate Editor

Renderings by NBBJ [enlarge]
Amazon hopes to break ground next year on the 43-story Phase I tower (center), designed by NBBJ. A second office tower with 33 stories is also planned.

Amazon paid $195 million last spring for the old Bellevue Corporate Plaza, at 600 108th Ave. N.E., right next to the light rail station that'll open in 2023.

With architect NBBJ, the redevelopment plan is to first demolish the parking garage on the east side of the 3.5-acre site. A new 43-story tower is proposed there, with about 850,000 square feet of offices. It'll be about 600 feet tall.

That's Phase I, which recently entered design review. Amazon hopes to break ground next year, with occupancy in 2024. City records indicate that Sellen is the general contractor, and that Seneca Group is a consultant.

Phase II, on the west side of the site, will replace the old 10-story Bellevue Corporate Plaza building, developed in 1980, with a new 33-story office tower. It'll be about 430 feet tall. It's also in the review process, with no announced start date.

The entire project, with the working title of Bellevue 600, will be presented at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 26 at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E. The public comment period ends Feb. 20. The city says that a State Environmental Policy Act determination of non-significance is expected.

Meanwhile, Amazon announced this week on its company blog that it expects its Bellevue headcount to reach over 15,000 employees in coming years. That's about seven times its current 2,000-plus headcount there, compared with about 50,000 in Seattle. The company said those would be new jobs — not deducted from its Seattle workforce.

Amazon previously confirmed that it'll move its worldwide operations team — i.e., logistics — to Bellevue during the next few years. That team is said to number in the thousands, but it already has space lined up before Bellevue 600 comes online.

In what Amazon calls “a growing, business-friendly city,” it's already taking 400,000 square feet to be vacated by Expedia this year at Tower 333 (which is owned by Equity Commonwealth). And it'll have about 374,000 square feet at Hines' Summit III when it opens — probably next year. Trammell Crow announced last year that Amazon would take all 715,000 square feet at its Binary Towers, which are slated for completion in 2022.

Amazon is also moving its Kuiper satellite team, size undisclosed, to Redmond.

In downtown Bellevue, Broderick Group estimates that Amazon has already claimed almost 2.9 million square feet in downtown Bellevue (including Bellevue 600). That includes new buildings being developed, plus space leased in older buildings — some on a short-term basis.

More offices are also being planned by Skanska, Fana Group, Vulcan Real Estate, PMF Investments, and others hoping to attract Amazon as a tenant.

In its SEPA filing with the city for 600 108th, Amazon says that somewhere between 4,925 and 6,567 people could eventually work in the two completed towers, including separate retail and restaurant employees.

An auditorium-like box would be built on the corner of 110th Avenue Northeast.

Phase I is likely expedited by the fact that NBBJ had previously worked with the site's prior owner, Equity Commonwealth, on an earlier hotel/office redevelopment plan.

NBBJ says the entire project will target LEED Gold certification. Both the Phase I and II towers will face the Northeast Sixth Street pedestrian corridor, aka the Grand Connection, with about 23,000 square feet of landscaped plazas and open space (mostly between the two towers), with amenities, cafes, etc.

GGN is the landscape architect.

Amazon says, “We plan to build a significant common space along Northeast Sixth Street to create a pedestrian connection and a new green area for residents, commuters and downtown workers. The ground level will promote neighborhood connectivity with thousands of square feet reserved for local retail and other uses, including a daycare center to support Bellevue families.”

For Phase I, the main tower will be pushed north, with a small auditorium-like box on the corner of 110th Avenue Northeast — closest to the existing Bellevue Transit Center on Sixth — that looks to be about four stories tall. This appears to be what Amazon calls “a new meeting center to host company and community events.”

A similar structure flanks the west side of the tower (facing Phase II), though with a more varied roofline and terraces, thus creating a kind of two-box podium. On the east side of the tower, facing 110th, a dramatic exposed stairwell is prominent.

Restaurants, retail and the possible day care center will occupy about 11,700 square feet in Phase I. Above grade, that tower will total about 1 million square feet.

Six levels of underground parking will have 1,056 stalls; the Phase II tower will also connect to that garage, and add 759 stalls. Amazon is asking for a reduction of about 40% from the city's usual parking requirements, citing its employees' desire to use transit. (The actual stall count is about 30% less than required.) There will also be 245 bike stalls.

Both phases will total about 1.7 million square feet above grade, plus about 900,000 square feet below.

Meanwhile, the old Bellevue Corporate Plaza has about 257,000 square feet of offices occupied by tenants including HNTB, Thunder, Lightspeed and Artech Consulting — but not Amazon. JLL leases that space, with about 10% of it currently available. As leases expire, Amazon could occupy the building on an interim basis. The company has reportedly been using WeWork space at Hines' Summit II for short-term needs.

Amazon first ventured to Bellevue in 2017, when it leased 354,000 square feet at Centre 425, which developer Schnitzer West promptly sold that year to Tristar Capital and RFR Holding for $313 million.

The company says Bellevue offers “great amenities, a high quality of life, and a fantastic talent pool. Similar to Seattle, the city of Bellevue has a vision of a well-connected, walkable and diverse 18-hour downtown core.”

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon — under a different name — in the garage of a West Bellevue rental house in 1994, then moved it to Seattle. He now has a waterfront home Medina, among other residences.


Brian Miller can be reached by email at brian.miller@djc.com or by phone at (206) 219-6517.

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