Photographer: George Rose/Getty Images

Expedia Scales Back Plans for New $1.2 Billion Seattle Campus

  • Online travel company moving closer to downtown Seattle
  • Younger tech workers want campuses, not office towers

Expedia Inc. is scaling back plans for a new campus on Seattle’s waterfront, potentially saving the online travel agent as much as $600 million in construction costs.

The company, currently based across Lake Washington in Bellevue, Washington, decided to take a “modular approach” and build only as much space as it foresees itself needing in the coming years, rather than building excess space, Chief Financial Officer Mark Okerstrom said in an interview. The design change could cut the original $1 billion to $1.2 billion budget by as much as half, he said.

“One of the things that concerned us about the design that we were looking at was the need to build out more than we needed up front,” said Okerstrom, who made clear the decision doesn’t mean Expedia is curtailing its growth plans. “We do expect that ultimately we will grow into a campus of the size that we had originally anticipated.”

The move closer to downtown is an effort to appeal to young tech workers who want to work near the city center. The new campus will feature several low-rise buildings rather than the tower currently occupied by Expedia. Amazon.com Inc., also based in Seattle, is building three gigantic, greenery-filled glass orbs as it expands a sprawling campus that already takes up large swathes of downtown.

The move westward is seen as a blow to Bellevue, where Expedia’s current office tower is one of the main landmarks. The new headquarters will sit on the old 40-acre (17-hectare) Amgen Inc. campus, which Expedia bought for $228.9 million. The waterfront property overlooks Seattle’s picturesque Elliott Bay and offers views of Mt. Rainier, the highest mountain in the state.

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