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Originally published February 15, 2012 at 9:12 PM | Page modified February 16, 2012 at 6:56 PM

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Amazon to buy Denny Triangle property; plans 3 big office towers

In one of Seattle's biggest real-estate deals in years, Amazon.com has agreed to buy three blocks from Clise Properties and plans to build a 1 million-square-foot office tower on each.

Seattle Times business reporter

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In one of Seattle's biggest real-estate deals in years, fast-growing Amazon.com has agreed to buy three blocks in Seattle's Denny Triangle — and preliminary paperwork has been filed with the city to build a 1 million-square-foot office tower on each of them.

The properties have been owned for decades by Seattle's Clise family, which signed a purchase-and-sale agreement with Amazon several weeks ago, Clise Properties Chairman Al Clise said late Wednesday.

The deal includes options for Amazon to buy even more of Clise's extensive Denny Triangle holdings, he added.

"In terms of economic development and new jobs for Seattle, this is off the charts," Clise said.

An Amazon spokeswoman did not return an email seeking comment.

The three contiguous blocks Amazon is buying are bounded roughly by Westlake Avenue, Sixth Avenue and Blanchard Street. Most of the property is parking lots; but other users include the King Cat Theater, Toyota of Seattle and the Sixth Avenue Inn motel.

Seneca Group, a Seattle real-estate advisory firm working with Clise and Amazon, filed papers with Seattle's Department of Planning and Development on Wednesday for "development of an approximately 1 million-square-foot office building with accessory parking" on each of the three blocks.

"This would be world-class," Clise said of the development. "It jibes with what our vision has always been."

He declined to give the sale price or other terms of the deal, or say when the sale is expected to close.

If built, the three buildings would contain nearly twice as much office space as the Columbia Center, Seattle's tallest building.

They also would more than double Amazon's already substantial footprint on downtown's northern edge.

Vulcan Real Estate is completing a 1.7-million-square-foot headquarters complex for the online retailer in South Lake Union, and over the past two years Amazon has leased an additional 1 million square feet in that neighborhood and the Denny Triangle.

But all that space is rented. The Clise blocks would be Amazon's first venture into office development and ownership.

Zoning approved in 2006 allows towers as tall as 500 feet on the blocks.

The parcels make up a big chunk of a 13-acre collection of Denny Triangle properties that Clise put up for sale in 2007, attracting international attention.

The family, which began accumulating the parcels in the 1920s, said it envisioned a master-planned community on the scale of New York's Rockefeller Center.

Clise pulled the collection off the market less than a year later, citing the global credit crunch, although its real-estate adviser said bids had topped $600 million.

Al Clise said at the time that the family would not sell off the collection in pieces.

That's still its intent, he said Wednesday: "We very much do not want to break up this assemblage," he said, noting Amazon's options to buy more from Clise.

But he wouldn't say whether those options include all the remaining properties.

Bryan Stevens, a spokesman for the city's Department of Planning and Development, said the paperwork for the office towers filed Wednesday includes no details — just the property addresses and one-line descriptions of the proposals.

A "pre-submittal conference" with planners is Feb. 23, he said, and the applicant may provide more details then.

Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or epryne@seattletimes.com

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