Amazon pauses plans for Seattle office towers while City Council considers business tax

The action is a bold political move of the kind Amazon has rarely made in Seattle and could lend weight to a big-business backlash against a proposed head tax on large employers.

Amazon has paused construction planning on a new downtown Seattle tower as the City Council considers a new tax on large employers to address homelessness, a company executive said Wednesday.

The retail giant also may sub-lease rather than occupy space in a skyscraper under construction at Rainier Square, said Drew Herdener, an Amazon vice president and spokesman.

The message is a bold and public political move of the kind Amazon has rarely made in Seattle and could lend weight to a big-business backlash against the proposed tax.

Mayor Jenny Durkan vowed to seek common ground Wednesday, while council members pushing the measure gave no indication they intend to back down.

Whether Amazon’s pause could turn into a major slowdown in growth for the company in the city is unclear, but it comes at a time when the retailer is rapidly expanding elsewhere and seeking a second headquarters in North America.

This week, Amazon announced additions of office space for 3,000 employees in Vancouver, B.C. and 2,000 in Boston.

Amazon, which last week reported a quarterly profit of $1.6 billion, has planned to fill its 17-story Block 18 tower and the Rainier Square skyscraper with thousands of workers.