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Originally published February 23, 2011 at 5:40 PM | Page modified February 23, 2011 at 7:35 PM

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Space-hungry Amazon.com plans to lease Denny Triangle building

Amazon.com is poised to take another big chunk of downtown Seattle office space. Its target this time: 1918 Eighth Avenue, a building that was completed in late 2009 and has remained mostly empty.

Seattle Times business reporter

Fast-growing Amazon.com, which already has long-term leases for nearly 2 million square feet of office space in greater downtown Seattle over the past three years, is poised to take another big chunk.

Its target this time: 1918 Eighth Avenue, a Denny Triangle tower that was completed in late 2009 and has remained mostly empty.

On Amazon's behalf, a contractor filed a permit application this week with the city Department of Planning and Development for tenant improvements to floors 4 through 19 of the 36-story tower.

Those 15 floors contain about 300,000 square feet, according to the building's website. But people with knowledge of the downtown commercial real-estate market say Amazon is expected to take more floors than that.

All but the top few floors of the tower are available. The building's owner, Schnitzer West, said last month that 524,000 of the tower's 660,000 square feet of office space remained unleased.

A Schnitzer spokeswoman said Wednesday that the firm does not discuss prospective tenants. Amazon representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Amazon has kept growing despite the recession, and its appetite for office space in greater downtown has only increased.

If the online retailer does take most of 1918 Eighth, it will become the largest office tenant in greater downtown, said Peter Truex, senior managing director at brokerage Colliers International's Seattle office.

"Amazon has become a key driver, and a market-maker, in the downtown office marketplace," he said.

Last year Amazon began moving into an 11-building, 1.7 million-square-foot headquarters complex that Paul Allen's Vulcan Real Estate started building for it in South Lake Union in 2007. Construction of the last of those buildings began last month.

On top of the mammoth South Lake Union deal, Amazon also leased 180,000 square feet last year at Vulcan's recently completed 2201 Westlake.

The 1918 Eighth tower, at Eighth Avenue and Virginia Street, is a few blocks south of Amazon's other buildings, closer to the downtown core. If the company takes most of the building, the lease could make a noticeable dent in greater downtown's high office vacancy rate, which most researchers now peg in the high teens.

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"It would be an indicator to other tenants who may be sitting on the sideline that it's time to get serious," Truex said.

Amazon's growth is good news for downtown, said Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association.

"When a company like Amazon locates downtown, it has a huge impact," she said. "Its large employee base impacts our housing market, attracts other businesses to the area, and helps to add vibrancy to an entire neighborhood, as we're seeing in South Lake Union."

Before its expansion, Amazon leased about 800,000 square feet at its Beacon Hill headquarters and in several downtown buildings. It is expected to vacate that space within a year.

Amazon made a 2010 profit of $1.15 billion as its annual sales increased 40 percent to $34.2 billion.

While the company does not disclose the number of people it employs locally, it reported 33,700 employees worldwide at the end of 2010, up from 24,300 a year ago.

Amazon's website lists more than 1,800 job openings in Seattle, ranging from author-relations coordinator to software-development engineer for its Kindle e-reader.

Also contributing to its growth: Amazon has been on a bit of a buying spree since its late-2009 purchase of shoe and apparel retailer Zappos.com. Recent acquisitions include baby-products site Diapers.com; BuyVIP.com, a members-only fashion site that operates in a handful of European countries; and LoveFilm, a Netflix-style European DVD rental service.

Tuesday, Amazon introduced an online video-streaming service in the U.S. as part of its $79-a-year Amazon Prime program, putting it up against Netflix and Hulu.

Seattle Times business reporter Amy Martinez contributed to this report.

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

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