By the end of the year, Bank of America will move two of its offices to the 58-story Rainier Square Tower project at Fourth Avenue and Union Street downtown, the company announced Friday.
Nearly 550 employees — one-quarter of Bank of America’s Puget Sound staff — from offices at 800 Fifth Avenue and 1215 Fourth Avenue will consolidate across six floors at Rainier Square. Those two offices will close, but there will not be a reduction in workforce related to the move, bank spokesperson Britney Sheehan confirmed.
Rainier Square was at the heart of the 2018 controversy over the so-called “head tax.” After the Seattle City Council leveled a $275 per employee tax on companies grossing at least $20 million per year in the city, Amazon threatened that unless the tax were repealed, it would abandon plans to open an office with as many as 5,000 employees in the building.
The company, though, is still the primary leaseholder of all of Rainier Square’s 722,000 square feet of office space — meaning the bank will be Amazon’s tenant. Amazon did not return requests for comment.
Speculation about who might sublease the space from Amazon has abounded in recent months. Initially, WeWork was expected to take as much as 400,000 square feet — some of which, presumably, would be rented back to Amazon as short-term offices — but after a succession of scandals that sent the coworking company’s valuation plummeting from $47 billion to $5 billion, commercial brokers say WeWork is now looking to lease a much smaller chunk of space in Rainier Square.
WeWork spokesperson Michael Harold said the Bank of America lease did not affect the company’s plans to take space in Rainier Square.
The huge building could alleviate some of Seattle’s office space crunch when it opens in August.
High demand, especially from tech firms, and a shortage of empty space have pushed asking rents for downtown Seattle offices to an all-time average high of $49.70 per square foot in the last three months of 2019, according to a JLL report release Friday.
The distinctive, sloping-sided — some have said shoe-shaped — Rainier Square Tower will be Seattle’s second-tallest building. The lower floors contain 80,000 square feet of retail, including a new PCC location and a high-end Equinox gym. The top 18 floors boast nearly 200 luxury apartments.