Facebook Buys Washington Corporate Campus Originally Intended for REI

Covid-19 caused the outdoor retailer to shift to multiple satellite locations, more remote work

The newly completed 400,000-square-foot corporate campus is in the Spring District neighborhood of Bellevue

Despite making a significant commitment to remote work going forward, Facebook continues to gobble up large parcels of commercial real estate, and the complex that was originally slated to be home to outdoor clothing and gear retailer REI in Bellevue, Wash., became the latest addition to the list this week.

REI said it finalized the sale of the newly completed 400,000-square-foot corporate campus in the Spring District neighborhood of Bellevue, as well as roughly six acres of land, to Facebook for $367.6 million.

Site developer Wright Runstad and Shorenstein Properties also purchased an undeveloped two-acre portion of the property.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s weekly town hall meeting May 21, which was publicly livestreamed, that Facebook would be the “most forward-leaning company on remote work on our scale,” adding that 95% of its workforce would continue to work remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, and that Facebook would begin recruiting employees without mandating that they can work from any of its offices.

“It doesn’t make sense to constrain all of our hiring to people who live near offices we’re not going to be in anyway,” he said during the town hall.

Despite that declaration, the company last month leased all 730,000 square feet of office space in The Farley Building, formerly the James A. Farley Post Office, in Manhattan, from Vornado Realty Trust.

Due largely to the effects of the pandemic, REI scrapped its plans to move into the Bellevue campus in favor of multiple satellite locations across the region and more remote working.

REI and Facebook will each donate $1 million to the Eastrail, a 42-mile trail that REI has been helping to develop over the past four years, which will connect the diverse communities and businesses of King County and provide access to transit alternatives, employee hubs and green space.

Facebook Seattle head Vijaye Raji told Peter Grant of The Wall Street Journal that the Seattle area is now the company’s largest engineering hub outside of its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., and this week’s deal brings its total square footage in the region to over 3 million.

He added that the new property is located next to three other buildings Facebook is developing in the Spring District.

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


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
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