Monday, October 26, 2020
Oct. 26, 2020

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Facebook to buy unused REI complex in Bellevue


SEATTLE — Facebook will buy REI’s so-new-it’s-never-been-used Bellevue campus for nearly $368 million, the social media giant announced last week.

The move further consolidates Facebook’s Eastside mini-empire in the upscale, multiuse Spring District east of I-405. Before the acquisition of the 400,000-square-foot REI offices, Facebook was already on track to lease nearly 850,000 square feet in three under-construction Spring District buildings.

Facebook, which opened its first Puget Sound office in 2010 with three engineers, now employs more than 5,000 local workers across 3 million square feet of space in dozens of locations in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond, placing it neck-and-neck with Google for the title of the area’s largest out-of-town tech employer.

The Seattle area is home to Facebook’s second-largest engineering hub.

“Our growth over the last decade is a testament to the thriving community and immense talent pool that has welcomed us with open arms,” said Nick Raby, Facebook’s director of North American real estate. “This purchase doubles downs on our investment in Bellevue and our commitment to the Pacific Northwest.”

The company declined to say how many employees it expects to work in its now-larger Spring District complex — and uncertainty about how much space workers will need in a post-COVID-19 landscape makes the number difficult to estimate. Before the pandemic, office employers typically budgeted roughly 150 square feet of space per person. Now, many companies are reconfiguring floor plans to allow workers to maintain six feet of social distance in the office, doubling or tripling space-per-person allowances.

Even a conservative estimate for Facebook’s hiring plans puts the number of Facebook employees expected to trickle into the Spring District in the many thousands.