Amazon to Expand in Downtown Seattle

The Rainier Square skyscraper stands out with its boot-like frame, featuring a wide base on the lower levels tapering off to skinnier floors higher up. It is planned for Fourth Avenue and Union Street and will be the second-tallest building in Seattle once completed, as soon as 2020. (Photos: Wright Runstad & Company)

SEATTLE (AP) — Amazon has agreed to a big expansion in Seattle, less than a month after the e-commerce giant announced it was looking for a second headquarters in North America.

The Seattle Times reports that the company confirmed Tuesday it has signed a lease for the entire office portion of a planned downtown skyscraper that will become the second-tallest building in the Pacific Northwest. The skyscraper, to be called Rainier Square, will be among the company's biggest office buildings when it opens in three years, with room for more than 3,500 additional employees.

Last month, Amazon said it will spend more than $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees outside its hometown of Seattle.

The news that Amazon was looking beyond Seattle prompted local business and city officials to worry the company might lessen its commitment to the region, and has city and state leaders around the country lining up to try to lure the jobs and benefits of the headquarters.

Before it announced that it was looking for a second headquarters, Amazon had said it planned to expand its presence in Seattle over the next several years and be able to grow from 40,000 employees to 60,000.

“I've walked away from this with a belief that they are still growing in Seattle now, clearly, and I think they are going to continue to grow,” Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad & Co., which is developing the Rainier Square project, told the Times.

The new 58-story tower will also include 200 luxury apartments, retail and an adjacent luxury hotel. It will be the region's second-tallest building, after the 76-story Columbia Center. Downtown Seattle is undergoing a construction boom, with 74 major projects active as of July.

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