Microsoft is filing plans Monday for a redevelopment of its Redmond campus to accommodate the 10,000 to 12,000 new employees it expects to add locally over the next 10 to 20 years.
Microsoft is filing plans Monday for a redevelopment of its Redmond campus to accommodate the 10,000 to 12,000 new employees it expects to add locally over the next 10 to 20 years, cementing its commitment to the Puget Sound region.
The company will start construction on the first of several new buildings in 2006 and build others as needed on both sides of Highway 520.
Although the growth is roughly on pace with Microsoft’s expansion in recent years, the company has never before publicly disclosed details of its long-range hiring plans in the region. The information could ease recurring concerns that Microsoft may someday move its headquarters, as Boeing did in March 2001.
Technically, the company is filing for a development agreement that would serve as a blueprint for campus expansion, but it would not commit the company to specific building goals or hiring projections. Jobs will be added as needed, Chris Owens, director of campus development said today.
“We are making a commitment to focus our development in Redmond with the development agreement,” he said. “We’re trying to send a message to the region, to the city, that we’re committed.”
To offset the effects of the growth, the company will provide $30 million for infrastructure improvements and help the city lobby for regional transportation improvements, such as the second phase of Sound Transit.
Included in the $30 million is most of the funding for a new overpass that will extend Northeast 36th Street over 520, easing congestion on the Northeast 40th Street and 148th Avenue Northeast overpasses.
The development agreement would undergo public hearings and Redmond City Council review. Microsoft will host an open house to discuss its plans with the community on Jan. 27; a time and place have not been chosen yet.
“They’ve been exploring that with us for several months,” Redmond Mayor Rosemarie Ives said last night.
Although Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates have repeatedly said the company will remain concentrated in Redmond, Microsoft has also been expanding in India and other foreign technology hubs, raising concerns about how much more it will grow in the region.
At the same time, Microsoft has been acquiring land around its main campus in Redmond. Jose Oncina, the company’s real-estate director, said in 2003 the company would prefer to grow at its main campus, rather than build isolated facilities. He said one option was to redevelop the older buildings on the main campus, replacing them with larger facilities.
Microsoft moved to the Redmond campus in 1986. About 28,000 of its 57,000 employees work in the Puget Sound area, mostly on the main campus along Highway 520.
It owns 7.5 million square feet of building space and leases 1.7 million square feet in the region.
Concerns about Microsoft’s regional growth were exacerbated last fall when the company gave up about half the land it was holding for a new campus in Issaquah. It still has enough land there to build a campus for around 5,000 employees but it’s now focusing its development work in Redmond, Owens said.
The company bought the Issaquah land partly because Redmond, under Ives’ direction, had placed a moratorium on new commercial construction until the city’s infrastructure was improved.
That moratorium has ended, and Ives said the city and Microsoft are discussing ways to plan the company’s growth in Redmond, especially since it has bought adjacent land such as the woodsy Eddie Bauer campus.
Relations between the city and its largest employer have also improved since the company hired a city building official, Jim Stanton, to help manage its local development projects.
Ives said cooperation on improving the 520 corridor is one area of interest when large development projects are undertaken in Redmond.
With Microsoft, a development agreement would address the city’s concerns about development impacts and give the company certainty about what it can build.
Brier Dudley: 206-515-5687 or firstname.lastname@example.org