The company that has conquered the world of online commerce is embracing its Hometown City Hall, where Amazon last week unveiled an unprecedented public threat to a proposal for a new tax on major employers in Seattle.
The retail giant will have paused construction planning on a new downtown Seattle tower until the city council votes on the tax to fund homelessness programs, a spokesman said.
Amazon may also lease, rather than occupy space in a downtown skyscraper under construction, said spokesman Drew Hederen
Interviewing two high-profile ventures by the city's biggest employer is a bold political push of the kind which Amazon had never done in Seattle before and could reward the efforts of large corporations to kill the proposed tax.
The company, led by Jeff Bezos, plans to fill its 1
Mayor Jenny Dur Kan vowed to look for a common ground, while council members who promoted the move did not indicate they intended to retreat. Councilor Kshama Sawant accused Amazon of trying to "blackmail".
"I'm very concerned about the implications that this could have on a slew of issues," Durkan said in an interview about Amazon's game and did not want to say if the company gave its advance notice. "Everyone should be."
The e-commerce monster reported a $ 1.6 billion quarterly profit last week and was targeted by local social justice activists who argue that a company run by the world's richest person earns more can help people who live without shelter.
Seattle's homeless crisis is among the worst in the country, with an official emergency of more than two years and a record 169 deaths last year.
"It's of course a little alarming A big company says," We're rethinking our strategy here, "said Councilor Mike O'Brien, a sponsor of the tax measure, on Wednesday before a meeting on the proposal at City Hall.  "If Amazon generally wants to know how they can be part of the solution, we welcome this conversation. But we need companies that are profitable and make billions of dollars every year to help people forced out of the apartment and landing on the streets. "Whethe Amazon's break is just a bargaining tactic or could turn into a strong growth slowdown for the company in town, it's unclear, but it comes at a time when the retailer is rapidly expanding into other cities and having a second headquarters in North America
This week, Amazon announced office space for 3,000 workers in Vancouver, BC, and 2,000 in Boston.
Amazon's threat to withdraw its plans in Seattle comes about as the company branches out, James Young said. Director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington
"The fact that HQ2 is already in the process tells me it's a real option," said Young, describing the company's announcement in September as a warning for Seattle shot with the message, "Look, we can go somewhere else."
The Seattle Times editor , Brier Dudley, reported on the break for the first time.
Five of the Nine Council Members Support One Employee The tax on companies that bring in at least $ 20 million a year in Seattle would bring in an estimated $ 75 million annually.
They estimate that the so-called "head tax" of $ 500 per worker pertains to 500 to 600 companies demanding that it be spent on low-income housing and emergency services for the homeless. The city council plans to vote later this month.
The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which counts Amazon as a member, has strongly opposed the proposal and described it as a "tax on jobs" by a council that can not be expected to spend efficiently.
The tax collection could cost Amazon, with about 45,000 Seattle employees, more than $ 20 million a year in 2019 and 2020. In 2021 it would be replaced by a payroll tax of 0.7 percent. Under this formula, Amazon's liability would probably increase.
Assuming that the company had 50,000 employees in Seattle by 2021, its income tax liability would be estimated at $ 39 million. Analyzing Employee Data Posted on the Job Review Page Glassdoor recommends an average of $ 110,000 per year for Amazon city employees.
"I can confirm this until the tax vote is given by City Council Amazon has set the entire construction planning for our Block 18 project in downtown Seattle and is considering ways to save the entire space in our recently-rented Rainer Square building sublease, "said Herdener in a statement.
The company declined to comment.
With employees spanning more than 40 buildings in South Lake Union and Denny Triangle, Amazon in Seattle occupies approximately 10 million square feet of office space – about one-fifth of the city's prime office space. These are by far the most companies in every major city in the country.
But the tech plant has at least another 4 million square feet planned – which would make room for another 20,000 employees – and the two aspirations now in the air for only part of it.
The block 18 tower would be part of the core campus surrounding Amazon's new biospheres and would dip at about 400,000 square feet. The company in October said it would occupy all 722,000 square feet of office space in the skyscraper of Rainier Square, which is planned to be the second highest in the Pacific Northwest.
Seattle's record-breaking construction boom in recent years has been largely dependent on Amazonian growth. 19659003] Every year, the city built about 10,000 new apartments and a few office towers, with developers building on the company and its employees.
"Amazon dominates the downtown office market," said Young. the UW real estate expert. "Where does the additional demand come from if they do this and enforce the threat?"
It also raises the question of whether other projects, which now only exist on paper, could be scrapped.
When 2018 began, the area between South Lake Union and Sodo had at least 220 umbrellas, according to the Downtown Seattle Association.
Proponents of the Tax say the companies driving Seattle's economic boom are also luring high-tech workers into the city (19659003) The state of Washington does not tax income or capital gains, so Seattle has few new revenue streams as the population explodes Sponsors of the measure in a joint statement.
"While Amazon did not single-handedly lead them to this problem, they have contributed to the growing income inequality, displacement and affordability issues of our city," they said.
Since Amazon 2010 opened its headquarters in the South Lake Union, Seattle Construction costs have grown at the fastest rates in the nation.
The average cost of a single-family home in Seattle has increased 110 percent to $ 820,000, while rents have risen 64 percent, with the typical two bedrooms now costing more than $ 2,000.
The company has recently helped to help the homeless problem on its own terms. Two years ago, there was Mary's Place, a non-profit organization that provides homeless women and their families with the free use of a former rural hotel for development
Amazon later promised to Mary's Place – free – to give a new company building, which is under construction in the city center. The 47,000 square meter accommodation will accommodate more than 200 people in 65 rooms.
But proponents of the tax proposal say philanthropy is not a substitute for sustainable public revenue.
"I hope we understand we have one. An unfair system that starts with our tax system, and Amazon benefits from this system," said O'Brien.
The councilman said he learned of Amazon's break at a meeting with corporate executives Wednesday morning. They called for no specific changes to the proposed legislation, said O'Brien.
Sawant, who ran an "Amazon tax campaign" at the heart of the company's campus last month, argued that the council should move forward. "Amazon has just run a blackmail campaign," she said.
Council members who were not yet taxed responded cautiously, with Sally Bagshaw suggesting that the company's big splash might slow down the deliberations.
"I think it will take some time for us to get it right," she said.
Although he lacks sympathy for a company run by a super-billionaire, Council President Bruce Harrell said he had doubts about the legislation.
The biggest concern is whether or not we really solve the problem, "Harrell said," If we do not move the needle, then we just have taxes. "
Durkan, chosen with the support of the Chamber and Amazon, While he was not a proponent of the tax, he agreed to work with councilors on the legislation, saying Wednesday that the Mayor's withdrawal could affect a range of jobs, "from our hardware stores, to restaurant workers, to nurses "Manufacturing workers and technicians."
"At the same time, our city needs We urgently address our homelessness and affordability crisis and lift those left behind," she added, pledging to bring together councilors and business and union leaders to reach an agreement
Although the vast majority of companies do not pay w Some would recommend the owners of small businesses are concerned that it could meet great company said Durkan, after she had proposed the tax.
The tax already has the five Council votes it needs but would need six to lift a mayor's docket Durkan declined to comment.
The District Labor Council of Martin Luther King, an umbrella organization for local unions, has approved the tax proposal.
Under the bill, which has not yet passed a council committee, they would build over $ 50 million a year to build low-income housing, $ 20 million for emergency shelters and services, and $ 5 million for the administration.
In Olympics, Gov. Jay Inslee's chief of staff said he speaks regularly with representatives of Amazon and has heard that they express concerns about the proposed tax "on several occasions."
Although Inslee does not want to advise Durran or the Council on what to do, David Postman said: "I hope there is a compromise on the proposal, and maybe in the end it will look different."
Senator Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, opposed the measure and encouraged the council to withdraw it in the face of Amazon.
"I personally believe that if this plan continues, we need to be wide awake to the likely unintended consequences of losing thousands of jobs," Carlyle said.
"I do not believe in a New York second that today's announcement is even close to a bluff."
Many leaders in the Seattle area have attempted to build relationships with Amazon since the surprise news of retailers would $ 5 billion invest a second headquarters for as many as 50,000 employees.
Some in the business community interpreted HQ2's search as a Seattle critic, and a large group of politicians met with Amazon executives at the company's premises in February. But the new proposal from the Council seems to have spurred tensions further.
People who have talked to Amazon executives and politicians say that within the company, a perception is responsible for city problems that were not caused.
Amazon officials have generally not voiced such concerns in public, but the poll tax proves to be an exception.
Amazon Web Services CEO Andrew Jassy wrote on Twitter last week, "Madness What Seattle Is," alongside a link to an article critical of Seattle's tax proposal. Jassy also published a statement by the editors of the Seattle Times, in which the city was asked to reject the measure.
On Wednesday, Lisa Herbold, councilor of legislation, described Amazon's jump into the debate as "an unfortunate reaction"
"It's not what I would expect from a company that says it feels committed to working with Seattle work together, just like last year, when we worked together to put together the reset meeting, "said Herbold. "This is really a step backwards in terms of this commitment."
Seattle Times staff reporters Vernal Coleman, Mike Rosenberg, Vianna Davlia and Jim Brunner and editor Jonathan Martin, contributed to this story.
"If Amazon generally wants to talk about how they can be part of the solution, we welcome this conversation, but we need companies that are profitable and make billions of dollars every year to help people who are forced out of the apartment and end up the street. "Seattle Councilor Mike O'Brien
Seattle's homeless crisis is among the worst in the country, with an official state of emergency more than two years old and a record 169 deaths registered last year.
The average cost of a single-family home in Seattle has risen 110 percent to $ 820,000, while rents have risen 64 percent, with the typical two bedrooms now costing more than $ 2,000.