Facebook Inc. is buying Recreational Equipment Inc.’s custom-made new headquarters near Seattle, the latest sign that big technology companies are driving commercial real estate markets during the coronavirus pandemic.
The outdoor clothing and gear retailer, known as REI, had been planning to occupy the 400,000 square foot campus in Bellevue, Wash., this summer. REI designed the elaborate complex to reflect its outdoorsy image, and the company once hoped it would serve as a way to recruit new employees. The property features outdoor staircases and bridges, a courtyard of native plants, and skylights to let in sunshine and air.
But REI never occupied it because of the pandemic, opting instead to cash out while employees work remotely from home or a number of smaller offices in the region.
Both companies announced the deal Monday. Facebook is paying $367.6 million. REI also sold undeveloped land on the property to the developers Wright Runstad & Co. and Shorenstein Properties, for a total sale price of $390 million.
Technology companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon.com Inc. have been among the most reticent businesses to reopen their offices due to fear of Covid-19 contagion and some have publicly embraced work from home. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg previously told The Wall Street Journal that he expects as much as half of his firm’s employees to work from home within a decade. But, at the same time, Facebook and other big tech appetite for real estate shows little sign of abating from what it was before the pandemic.