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Originally published April 5, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 5, 2007 at 2:07 AM

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Starbucks landlord proposes change in Sodo

Seattle's biggest building isn't big enough for Starbucks. The coffee giant is running out of space at its headquarters building in the...

Seattle Times business reporter

Seattle's biggest building isn't big enough for Starbucks.

The coffee giant is running out of space at its headquarters building in the Sodo neighborhood, and now its landlord is asking the city to pave the way for an expansion.

Nitze-Stagen, a Seattle real-estate company, wants the city to remove limits on office space for a six-block area that includes Starbucks Center off First Avenue South.

The request, which Mayor Greg Nickels supports, is one of nearly a dozen proposed changes to the city's comprehensive growth-management plan.

"This is our company's plan to allow the opportunity for Starbucks to grow in the area," Kevin Daniels, president of Nitze-Stagen, said Wednesday.

Additional office space would make sense for rapidly growing Starbucks, which now has more than 13,000 stores worldwide and opens about seven new shops a day. Its long-range goal is to have 40,000 stores.

About 3,500 Starbucks employees work at its headquarters building. With a total of 2 million square feet, it's Seattle's largest building and also houses Sears and OfficeMax stores.

Last year, Starbucks announced plans to buy two properties near Qwest Field to accommodate overflow from the building.

"It's great to have Starbucks here," Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis said. "They have a pretty aggressive expansion plan, and we want to be able to accommodate them."

The mayor's office recommended the proposal be considered in a March 20 report to the City Council. But the proposal could face opposition from people in favor of preserving Sodo's industrial feel.

A description of the proposal says it's intended for an "existing office user, while not displacing any existing industrial businesses."

The city prohibits a parcel of land in the six-block area from having more than 50,000 or 100,000 square feet of office space.

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Starbucks Center — which has 1 million square feet of office space — is an exception, because it carried a "nonconforming use" designation before the office-space restriction went into effect in the mid-1990s.

The six blocks, a significant portion of which Nitze-Stagen owns, are bounded by First Avenue South, Colorado Avenue South, and South Walker and South Forest streets.

"They have a lot of options as a global company," Daniels said of Starbucks. "And to my knowledge, they haven't decided that if there's going to be growth, whether it will all be in Seattle," or somewhere else.

The City Council will decide in the next two months if the proposal deserves consideration this year, said Alan Justad, a spokesman for the Department of Planning and Development. If it says yes, the plan could go to the council for a fall vote, he said.

Seattle Times business reporter Melissa Allison contributed to this story.

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com

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