Amazon.com bagging out on rent payments in Seattle actually has folks excited about the future of its South Lake Union neighborhood. And beyond. That’s because Amazon.com has agreed to stop rental checks, instead purchasing 11 buildings totaling 1.8 million sq ft of office space now leased from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Real Estate company.
The space currently serves as Amazon’s worldwide headquarters.
The roughly $1.16 billion purchase price, slated to close in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Vulcan, will not only position Amazon as one of the biggest building owners in the Pacific Northwest city, but allow Vulcan to turn the cash around into their next big project, likely keeping it invested in South Lake Union and the 30 acres it still owns in the neighborhood.
“We are truly excited that Amazon is making this long-term commitment to the South Lake Union community,” says Ada M. Healey, vice president of real estate for Vulcan Inc. “We know they will be excellent stewards of this property and will continue to play a vital role in revitalizing South Lake Union and creating a thriving urban neighborhood in the heart of Seattle’s urban core.”
Before Vulcan moved into South Lake Union, it was a mishmash of less than desirable industrial buildings. But by revitalizing the area, it enticed Amazon to move into the buildings less than three years ago. When the buildings went for sale this summer, speculation was that Amazon might take a dip in the owner’s market. And it won’t stop there.
Amazon has also unveiled (colorful) plans to build three new 37-story office towers nearby. The glass-clad buildings will feature green, red and yellow accents to give the buildings a bit of character and pass design muster.
The entire Vulcan-Amazon redevelopment program—okay, so it isn’t an official program or anything—has certainly turned the north end of Seattle’s downtown core into a high-tech mecca (and the Gates Foundation headquarters not far away adds even more shiny new buildings to gaze at). Not only has the real estate movements brought a new look to the area, but also plenty more people, both during the workday and in the evenings. Vulcan has invested in both residential and commercial, including a 278-unit apartment complex. And as any city planner knows, the addition of organizations as large as Amazon and Gates draws new retail and restaurant options.
With an ever-changing north downtown neighborhood in South Lake Union, Seattle has a revitalization effort any city in the nation would be jealous of. Now it also knows all the players involved are here to stay. For the long haul.
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