REI Co-op has a friend in Facebook, which plans to buy the Bellevue campus of what was to be REI’s new corporate headquarters until the outdoor retailer announced last month that it would instead sell the new facility to focus on a more distributed work model.
Menlo Park, California-based Facebook announced today that it is buying the 400,000-square-foot campus and about 6 acres of land in Bellevue’s emerging Spring District for $367.6 million, adding to its rapidly growing footprint in the Puget Sound region, where it has more than 5,000 employees and is adding more every week.
Kent-based REI said it sold its entire Spring District property for $390 million, which included 2 acres of undeveloped property sold to the district’s master developer, Wright Runstad & Co., and Shorenstein Properties for $22.4 million.
The Spring District is a roughly 36-acre, $2.3-billion mixed-use development just east of downtown Bellevue.
“The sale represents a positive return on the co-op’s investment in the property and will enable important investments in REI’s customer-facing innovations, its nonprofit partners, and carbon-reduction goals,” REI said in a statement today.
For Facebook, the purchase represents a major increase in investment not only in the Puget Sound, where it has people spread across myriad offices, but in the Spring District, where it already had plans to move into three new office buildings it is leasing and are in various stages of development. Due to the pandemic, it’s not yet in any offices there, but anticipates one office being move-in ready early next year, another in mid-year 2021, and another still to be decided due to the pandemic, according to an email from Tracy Clayton. (Clayton manages corporate communications for Facebook Seattle.) The REI site will likely be move-in ready by the end of 2021, but no move-in date is set, Clayton said.
In a statement, Nick Raby, Facebook’s director of real estate and facilities for North America, said, “We first opened our Seattle office in 2010 with three engineers. Our growth over the last decade is a testament to the thriving community and immense talent pool that has welcomed us with open arms. This purchase doubles downs on our investment in Bellevue and our commitment to the Pacific Northwest.”
Vijaye Raji, head of Seattle’s Facebook office and vice president of entertainment, added, “This year marks 10 years for Facebook in the greater Seattle area, which has become our largest engineering hub outside of our Menlo Park headquarters, and we remain committed to the region. What attracted us to the Spring District is the engineering talent, central location, its future as a transit hub, and, most of all, we wanted to be part of the dynamic growth Bellevue is experiencing. As we continue to grow, we strive to be a good neighbor and have a positive impact on the communities around us and look forward to continuing to be a part of Bellevue’s success.”
With the REI addition, Facebook now has more than 3 million square feet of office space in the greater Seattle area, Clayton said.
Facebook isn’t the only tech giant ramping up its Bellevue presence. Amazon announced earlier this month that it will grow its Bellevue employment base by an additional 10,000 people downtown, bringing to 25,000 the number of employees expected there by about 2025 in owned and leased offices.
Seattle-based Wright Runstad & Co. will put the 2 acres it purchased from REI back into its inventory of development sites in the Spring District and begin planning for a future project on the site, according to a statement from CEO Greg Johnson.
Following the sale, REI and Facebook are each donating $1 million to the Eastrail, a 42-mile trail that REI has helped bring to life over the last four years, REI’s statement said. When complete, the trail system will connect communities and businesses of King County’s Eastside through access to transit alternatives, employee hubs, and greenspace, REI said.
“This investment will further outdoor infrastructure for the region that’s been REI’s home base for 82 years — serving the area’s 1.4 million lifetime members with nine stores, a distribution center, and its headquarters,” it added.