In a move that echoes the 21st Century changeover from the suburban campus model (think Microsoft and well, Office Space) to the city model (think Amazon in South Lake Union), Weyerhaeuser's board approved plans to move the $8.5 billion Fortune 500 wood products company from Federal Way to Pioneer Square this afternoon.
Here's CEO Doyle Simons' email to staff today, where the pull of urban values is evident—from Doyle's rap about transit access to his pitch about attracting new talent to "one of the country's fastest growing cities."
From: Doyle Simons
Sent: Tuesday, August 26, 2014 2:00 PM
Subject: Headquarters decision
As you may know, we have been evaluating options for the best place to locate our corporate headquarters. This process is now complete and our board of directors has approved the decision to move our company headquarters from Federal Way to 200 Occidental Avenue in Seattle.
The move will occur in mid-to-late 2016. We will be the sole office tenants of a new building, which we will Lease.
It will be constructed to meet our needs and is large enough to accommodate future growth. All our Federal Way-based functional and business staff teams will move to the new location.
We will divest the land and buildings associated with our Federal Way campus. Our research and technology teams will continue to occupy a portion of the Weyerhaeuser Technology Center through a contractual agreement with the eventual new owners.
There are two main drivers behind this decision.
First, the size of our Federal Way campus is too large for our needs. The capacity in our current buildings is more than triple what we need, even in anticipation of future growth for our company. In addition, operating this 430-acre campus is very costly.
We evaluated a wide range of possible solutions, including retrofitting our technology center and moving into existing buildings at other locations. Ultimately we decided to remain in Washington State and that occupying this new building in Seattle was the best option to serve our current and future needs.
This leads to the second driver for this decision — positioning ourselves for future success.
A critical goal for our long-term success is to continue to attract and retain top talent, especially given the number of retirements we anticipate in the next several years. Seattle is one of the country’s fastest growing cities, offering a larger pool of talent than any other location in the Puget Sound region. It also has the power to draw talent from across the country and internationally. Choosing a location that positions us for the best possible recruiting and retention success is the right strategic direction for our company, and is consistent with our focus on people development.
We understand this decision will significantly affect the commute experience for many people. We chose the south downtown area of Seattle because it is optimally located for public transit from multiple directions. We are committed to continuing to subsidize the cost of transit using commuter programs in the region and will share more details about how that will work as final decisions are made.
I know this is a lot to take in and that you will have many questions. We have created a website to house all the information we have about the move, including images of the new building and a comprehensive Q&A. As more details are finalized, we will post them on the site.
Weyerhaeuser has a long history in Federal Way and this campus has served us very well over the years. Moving to Seattle is an important step forward for Weyerhaeuser, and I’m personally excited about the opportunities it will bring to our company and employees as we continue on our journey to truly great.
Specifically, the company is moving into the space at 200 Occidental between Yesler and Washington.