How Bellevue wooed Amazon over to the Eastside

Jul 3, 2019, 4:39 PM

In April, it was revealed that Amazon would be moving its entire worldwide operations team to Bellevue. But how exactly did Seattle’s eastern neighbor woo the tech giant across Lake Washington?

“We have more room for growth,” Bellevue Deputy Mayor Lynne Robinson told The Jason Rantz Show. “We’re only 60 percent developed downtown, so we have planned for growth for a long time.”

That growth was helped when the city recently increased its height limits and floor areas for buildings downtown. Amazon quickly became the beneficiary of that increase too, when it announced new construction on what will soon be both Bellevue’s and the company’s tallest ever tower.

Amazon expected to close on mega real estate deal in Bellevue

The 43-story building will be dubbed “Bellevue 600,” located on the east half of the Bellevue Corporate Plaza. Amazon purchased the property in April for $650 million.

Making the pitch

In the very early stages of convincing the company to make the move, the city submitted a prospectus outlining what Bellevue has to offer. For Robinson and many working for the city, that list is a long one.

“We have a very stable and talented workforce over here, and we have an innovation-oriented culture, which is true of the entire region as you know,” she described. “We have a lot of technology here that offers improved health care outcomes and delivery, we have technology for communications, enhanced recreation, business management, sales and trade, everything. And so this seems like a really great place for a company to settle down for business.”

It’s unclear exactly how many employees Amazon will be moving over to the Eastside, but estimates range anywhere from 10,000 to as many as 25,000.

Amazon backing out of plans to build HQ2 in New York

As of publishing, Amazon has roughly seven spaces in Bellevue it either plans to move into, or is already occupying. In addition to Bellevue 600, that includes a lease on the 15-story Binary Towers, Bellevue Corporate Plaza, WeWork space at Summit II, permits for Summit III, the former Expedia headquarters at Tower 333, and current employees at Centre 425.

All that could eventually provide enough space for over 11,000 employees by 2024, although Amazon has yet to confirm that figure.

“We’re prepared for this,” said Robinson.

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How Bellevue wooed Amazon over to the Eastside