Amazon.com Inc. said it’s pausing construction planning on a new office tower in Seattle pending the outcome of a city council vote on a new tax on employees. The company also said it’s considering subleasing office space it has already leased in another downtown corporate high rise under construction.
The Seattle city council has been debating a new per-worker “head tax” on large employers to fund homeless services and affordable housing. The business community has generally opposed new taxation, which has seen public support at hearings by residents concerned about the increased cost of living in the city.
The Seattle Times earlier reported Amazon’s construction pause.
Amazon has been building a network of office towers near Seattle’s South Lake Union area near downtown, as its workforce in the city has grown. The new structure, known as Block 18, is adjacent to its new office complex, including its signature spheres, and currently contains a motel that Amazon has let a non-profit use to temporarily house homeless families.
The work stoppage comes as Amazon is poised to announce which city it has selected for its second headquarters. Seattle has been wrestling both with concerns it will miss out on growth as Amazon shifts resources elsewhere, and on the flip side, with worries that the retailer’s expansion has already worsened issues around affordability and housing in Seattle. This week it also announced expansion plans in Boston and Vancouver.