Amazon just gave the slip to yet another city.
The company has officially listed a sublease for its floors in Seattle’s Rainier Square tower that were to be used as office space, according to a marketing flier obtained by GeekWire. In a statement to Gizmodo, an Amazon spokesperson said that the company is “currently building two million square feet of office space in our South Lake Union campus in Seattle,” another property in the area.
“We are always evaluating our space requirements and intend to sublease Rainer Square based on current plans. We have more than 9,000 open roles in Seattle and will continue to evaluate future growth,” the spokesperson added. The company did not respond to further inquiries about its decision to pull out of the space.
As the Seattle Times reported Wednesday, the move not to occupy 30 floors in what is to be one of the tallest buildings in the Pacific Northwest region has quickly come under fire. Amazon fiercely opposed a “head tax” on big businesses that would have helped support homelessness services and affordable housing, and which was repealed last year in what critics at the time said amounted to strong-arming by the company.
Support for the repeal last spring arose in part after the e-commerce giant “said it would pause construction planning on an office high-rise and consider subleasing its space in the Rainier Square tower,” per the Times:
When Mayor Jenny Durkan and a council majority sought to compromise with business leaders in May by passing a smaller version of the tax, Amazon announced it would move ahead with its high-rise project. But the company never recommitted to the Rainier Square space, even after an Amazon-backed effort to nix the measure through a referendum pressured the council into repealing the tax less than a month later.
A spokesperson for Amazon told Gizmodo at the time that the “vote by the Seattle City Council to repeal the tax on job creation is the right decision for the region’s economic prosperity.”
Kshama Sawant, a council member, slammed the repeal last year. Following news of Amazon’s abandonment of its Rainier Square space this week, Sawant tweeted that the incident was a “lesson” that rather than “caving to billionaire class, workers across cities must unite to tax big biz, create jobs to fund housing, services!” Sawant pointed to Amazon’s failed HQ2 deal in New York as a defeat of a “$3B handout to Amazon.”
Amazon pulled out of its deal with New York for its HQ2 space in Queens earlier this month following vocal opposition to lavish subsidies critics characterized as corporate handouts and a negotiation process that lacked any transparency. When it did pull the plug, the company pointed the finger at its naysayers.
“For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term,” the company said in a statement at the time. It added that “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”
Pulling some shit like it did in Seattle might be a good example of why.