Online travel giant Expedia is considering relocating its corporate headquarters, a move that could cost downtown Bellevue one of its largest – and most vital – employers.
The company says it’s committed to staying in the Puget Sound area and “Bellevue is certainly a possibility,” Expedia CFO Mark Okerstrom said Thursday. But, “We’re not constraining ourselves to the downtown Bellevue area in terms of our search.”
Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE) employs about 3,000 people in in Bellevue, according to the city. In a Securities and Exchange Commission report at the end of 2014, the company said it leases approximately 503,000 square feet in Bellevue, with leases expiring Oct. 31, 2018.
Most of the employees work at the company’s namesake tower at 333 108th Ave. N.E., and others work at the nearby Skyline Tower.
Where Expedia might move has been a source of great interest in the commercial real estate industry. Scuttlebutt among industry sources is that the company is looking at a range of properties, from a proposed two-tower project just east of the Bellevue First Congregational Church at 752 108th Ave. N.E., to Amgen’s former facility on the Seattle waterfront.
Expedia declined to comment on specific sites where it might move.
“We do expect to continue to build our employee base here. We are very committed to the Puget Sound area,” Okerstrom said. “We are fortunate to be in a position where there are a lot of great options for us in terms of where we continue to have our future. And we’re currently taking a look at a number of options.”
The average salary in the tech sector that Expedia is part of is $99,705, according to the city.
So in one fell swoop, the city could lose thousands of high-paying jobs, one of its largest lessors of office space and the prestige that comes with being the home of an internationally recognizable corporation.