Amazon’s lease of Vulcan towers could give it over 5M square feet in Bellevue

by Brian Miller | September 8, 2020 | Daily Journal of Commerce

Confirming months of rumors, Vulcan Real Estate announced on Friday that Amazon will lease 2 million square feet of offices now under construction in downtown Bellevue. Terms were not disclosed.

Amazon’s brokers were Ed Curtis and Clay Nielsen of JLL. Vulcan’s Robert S. Arron and Ada M. Healey led the leasing effort for that company.

Closest to the future Downtown Bellevue Station, at 555 108th Ave. N.E., 555 Tower will be the city’s tallest structure. About a 10-minute walk south is the newly christened West Main, with three shorter towers replacing the former Bellevue Plaza retail complex — already removed — at 117 106th Ave. N.E.

Healey said in a statement, “We are very excited to be working with Amazon again.” The company in the past developed many office buildings for Amazon in South Lake Union. More recently, following the path of the future light rail line, Vulcan has invested about $109 million on Bellevue land.

Healey added, “We are thrilled to be kicking off our first development projects in the Bellevue CBD. It is projects like these that will help stimulate business in Bellevue and help create jobs and opportunity — from construction jobs to new roles in hospitality and local retail in the years to come.”

Vulcan expects to complete the two projects in 2023; that’s about the same time East Link will open.

Amazon’s John Schoettler, vice president of global real estate and facilities, said Friday on the company blog, “Today, we are excited to announce that we plan to add 10,000 more jobs in Bellevue in the next few years.”

That’s on top of the 15,000 new Bellevue jobs the company had announced in February.

Schoettler said the two Vulcan projects “will provide our teams with state-of-the-art office space, and the community with new amenities — such as public parks and retail space — to help fulfill the city’s vision of a thriving, connected and pedestrian-friendly business district.”

Separate from Vulcan, he added, “In the coming weeks, we will begin the process of developing the second phase of our Bellevue 600 project.” Amazon owns that site, aka the old Bellevue Corporate Plaza at 600 108th Ave. N.E. NBBJ is designing the two towers. Phase one, to the east, will replace the old structured parking garage with about 850,000 square feet of offices in a 43-story tower.

Phase two will replace the 40-year-old Bellevue Corporate Plaza with what Schoettler says will be a 27-story office tower with retail and public space. The company will target LEED gold certification or higher for Bellevue 600. Completion for phase two is expected by 2025. No start date for phase one has been announced. City records indicate that Sellen Construction will be the general contractor. The demolition permit hasn’t yet been issued, and the city is still reviewing other permit applications.

Schoettler also announced that Amazon is giving $1 million to the city of Bellevue’s Human Services Fund. The city will then allocate that and other money to Eastside health and human service providers, with a particular emphasis on communities disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. About 40 nonprofits are expected to benefit from the gift.

And to that, Mayor Lynne Robinson said in a statement, “I want to thank the company for their generous support of critical services during this time of economic recovery. The city looks forward to expanding our partnership with Amazon and creating new opportunities for all Bellevue residents.”

Robinson called the gift, and the Vulcan leases, “a major win for our community and region,” adding, “The positive economic impacts of these two major Bellevue developments by Vulcan cannot be overstated.”

Vulcan is also planning improvements along the city’s planned Grand Connection bike/pedestrian path from Meydenbauer Park to the light rail station. (A future extension across Interstate 405 to Wilburton and Eastrail is also planned.) As part of 555 Tower, on the existing Northeast Sixth Street corridor, Vulcan will build a public plaza and 22,000-square-foot retail pavilion.

Amazon already has a large presence in Bellevue, with other developers besides Vulcan hurrying to build offices for the online giant. Those include: Centre 425, developed and later sold by Schnitzer West; Tower 333, which KKR says it will buy from Equity Commonwealth; Summit III, which Hines Global REIT has nearly finished; and Binary Towers, which Trammell Crow is now building.

Amazon currently occupies about 1 million square feet in Bellevue. Broderick Group recently estimated that it had about 3 million square feet in development. It now looks like the company could hit 5.6 million square feet by 2025. That’s not even counting future downtown offices planned to attract Amazon by Skanska, Schnitzer West, Onni Group and Fana Group. And other speculative projects are being contemplated by other landowners along 112th Avenue Northeast.

And there’s one final scrap of Vulcan news, just north of West Main. As part of its land investment for that project in 2016, Vulcan also acquired the Taco Time property at 201 106th. Recent plans filed with the city now indicate that corner is bound for apartments, not offices. How tall that building will be, how many units it’ll have, and who’s the architect are questions that remain to be answered.

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