Amazon.com Inc., the largest Internet retailer, is in talks to buy land next to its Seattle headquarters that the company may use for expansion, said two people with knowledge of the discussions.
The site is being sold by Clise Properties Inc., a family-owned office developer in Seattle. Clise put 12.5 acres (5 hectares) of land up for sale in 2007. The global credit crisis led to offers falling short of the company’s $600 million target, prompting it to end talks with potential buyers including Emaar Properties PJSC of Dubai in April 2008.
Amazon plans to buy part of the Clise parcel, said one of the people with knowledge of the talks, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. The land is zoned for commercial and residential development, including towers. The Clise family acquired the property in stages starting in the late 1920s.
Michele Glisson, a spokeswoman for Amazon, declined to comment. Al Clise, chairman of Clise Properties, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Clise Properties’ triangular parcel is located just north of Seattle’s central business district and immediately south of South Lake Union, the neighborhood where Amazon moved its headquarters in 2010. The parcel is bordered by Denny Way, Westlake Avenue and Fifth Avenue.
Rising Employee Numbers
Amazon employed about 56,200 people, including part-time workers, as of Dec. 31, up from 20,700 employees at the end of 2008 and 7,500 a decade ago, after the Internet bubble burst, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The retailer is considering opening its first physical store in Seattle in the next few months, the website Good E-Reader reported on Feb. 4, citing sources it didn’t identify.
Companies tend to be less interested in the flexibility offered by leasing once they establish permanent headquarters, said Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad & Co., the Seattle-based company that developed Microsoft Corp.’s campus in Redmond, Washington, and leased space to Amazon at its former headquarters. It makes sense that Amazon would explore buying land near its new campus to expand, according to Johnson, who said he has no knowledge of the efforts.
“We saw the same thing with Microsoft 20 years ago,” he said, adding that ownership gives companies greater control over amenities to help attract employees. “Once you know this is your hometown, it starts to make more sense to own.”