Not so fast, says Amazon. The online shopping giant announced Wednesday that is pushing the pause button on plans to build a skyscraper in downtown Seattle to house more employees. The pause in construction is being seen as a protest against the city of Seattle and its proposed tax to fund homeless programs. The proposed bill would tax large employers in Seattle in an effort to raise money to combat the growing homeless population problem.
Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said that the company might decide to sub-lease existing space for its expansion rather than continue the plans for the new skyscraper. The new building had plans to house approximately 7,000 workers in its Rainier Square location.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant sees this as a political move by Amazon, accusing the company of “blackmail” to get out of paying the tax. Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is continuing to work to mediate the situation and find a common ground solution that would appease all involved. Proponents of the tax measure state that it is necessary in order to help control one of the country’s worst homeless problems.
Boasting a $1.6 billion profit last quarter, Amazon is believed to be in a unique position to help the community. As the target of social justice ire for its lack of assistance, Amazon’s jab is seen by many as being hostile and not conducive to the goals of the city. City economic officials are worried that the possible pullback by Amazon is a sign of the time to come, as it is no secret that the company is actively expanding its offices elsewhere around the nation including a well-publicized search for a second headquarters location.