In the midst of its biggest expansion in nearly a decade, the world’s largest software company has suddenly found itself with a major setback: not enough room to grow.
…the company, which houses more than 30,000 people on its sprawling campus in Redmond, Wash., suddenly will have to make room for up to 12,000 new bodies. It will spend $1 billion to expand that campus by more than a third, or 3.1 million square feet, over the next three years. That includes new leases and the purchase and construction of 14 buildings. For a modest-size real estate market like Seattle, those are staggering numbers.
“The Redmond you’ll see even in a year will make your eyes pop,” said Lou Gellos, a Microsoft spokesman. “It’s going to be a very different campus.”
Microsoft is expanding beyond the boundaries of its current site, adding two buildings in a downtown Redmond shopping mall for a total of three, and consolidating its North American sales headquarters staff in a new skyscraper under construction in nearby Bellevue, Wash. By next summer, Microsoft will take over 15 of the 28 floors, or 320,000 square feet, in the office tower.
“They’re pretty much leasing up all the vacant office space in Redmond,” said Rob Odle, director of planning and community development for the city of Redmond.
And as you might expect, there are some problems with grumpy neighbors and traffic:
Transportation has become the largest issue for the growing region. And for its part, Microsoft has vowed to spend $35 million on transportation improvements in Redmond, including an overpass over Route 520 near its campus, sewer upgrades and turn lanes on nearby roads.
But even a sizable cash infusion would merely be a temporary solution to a problem that has been steadily worsening for years. The area’s roads and bridges, some of which are earthquake hazards, already struggle to handle the company’s 30,000 employees.
Privately, Microsoft officials bristle at the notion that the transportation burden is theirs. But Microsoft’s size makes it a convenient target for complaint among Redmond residents.
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