Amazon.com Inc. is purchasing property in central Seattle with plans to construct about 3 million square feet of office space, a move that could have the online retail bellwether owning its corporate headquarters for the first time amid dramatic expansion.
Amazon is buying three large contiguous blocks in central Seattle—a short walk south of where it leases its current headquarters—from Clise Properties Inc.
Real estate developer Seneca Group Inc., which is working with Clise, has filed papers with the city to build three office towers on the properties, each of which could include 1 million square feet of office space.
"I think it's a first, because of the size," said Clise Chief Executive Al Clise. "There are corporate headquarters in Seattle, but nothing of this size."
Mr. Clise declined to disclose the price being paid by Amazon. The deal is expected to be finalized later this year.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment, and a representative from Seneca Group did not respond to a request for comment.
"This is a new direction" for the company, Mr. Clise said. "They're planning for the future." Mr. Clise said Amazon also has options to acquire "significant" parcels of adjacent property in the future to accommodate further growth.
Bryan Stevens, Seattle's industrial permit liaison, said the city has not yet received applications from Amazon with design details.
Current zoning for the properties Amazon has acquired allows for buildings up to 500 feet in height, or about 40 stories, Stevens noted.
Amazon's real estate purchase comes as it finds itself in the midst of a dramatic growth spurt. The company reported recently that it ended 2011 with 56,200 employees, a 67% increase from the prior year.
Amazon's spending on employee additions, fulfillment centers and data infrastructure contributed to a sharp drop in fourth-quarter pr ofit, as the company's normally impressive rate of quarterly revenue growth missed expectations.
It was not immediately clear how many employees Amazon could house within the 3 million additional square feet of office space.
Yahoo Inc. won approval in 2010 to build a 3 million square-foot office campus in Silicon Valley, not far from its current headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. That campus could accommodate roughly 12,000 employees.
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