REI announced yesterday that it has sold its new, 400-square-foot office complex in Bellevue, Washington, to Facebook for $390 million, less than 30 days after putting it on the market and just three months after the outdoor retailer boycotted the tech giant for its handling of hate speech. Facebook also purchased approximately six acres of the eight-acre campus on which the building sits. The remaining parcel of land, an undeveloped two-acre portion of the property, was sold to Wright Runstad & Company and Shorenstein Properties.
According to a release, the sale represents "a positive return on the co-op’s investment in the property and will enable important investments in REI's customer-facing innovations, its nonprofit partners, and carbon reduction goals."
The news comes fast on the heels of REI's decision to rethink the idea of the company's headquarters, moving from a traditional, single-location model to a remote-work structure, with multiple satellite locations spread around the Seattle area.
As a result of the sale, REI and Facebook will each donate $1 million to the Eastrail, a 42-mile trail that runs through northwestern Washington. The project, when complete, will provide both transit alternatives and green space to people living in the area.
“The dramatic events of 2020 have challenged us to reexamine and rethink every aspect of our business and many of the assumptions of the past. That includes where and how we work,” REI chief executive Eric Artz said in a video conference with employees last month, when the company announced it would sell its new campus.
“As a result, our new experience of 'headquarters' will be very different than the one we imagined more than four years ago,” Artz said.
REI chief customer officer Ben Steele told SNEWS last month that the sale will allow REI to "shift [its] financial thinking" and make investments in parts of the business where it sees new opportunities for growth.
REI hasn't settled on a final list of locations for its new, dispersed headquarters yet, but Steele did say that the company will look for "flexibility as the core design principle of each one."