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Amazon halts plans to build Seattle office tower as city weighs controversial business tax

SEATTLE -- Amazon on Wednesday said it was pausing construction on a new office tower in downtown Seattle while the city debates a controversial “progressive tax on business.”

The projects they've paused would bring 7,000+ new jobs to the Seattle, plus the construction related jobs.

The Seattle-based retailer told builders working on the 17-story Block 18 project to halt construction until the City Council votes on the proposed "head tax." Block 18 is slated to be a 405,000 sq. ft. building at 7th and Blanchard, next to Amazon's Day 1 Building.

Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener provided the following statement to Q13 News:

“I can confirm that pending the outcome of the head tax vote by City Council, Amazon has paused all construction planning on our Block 18 project in downtown Seattle and is evaluating options to sub-lease all space in our recently leased Rainier Square building.”

The news was first reported by our news partner The Seattle Times.

The city of Seattle announced the proposed in April. The proposal would tax the city’s 585 largest businesses $.26 per employee per hour worked, or about $540 per employee per year. Its goal is to raise money to address the homeless crisis. It would generate an estimated $75 million a year.

It’s been billed as a tax on the rich, only levied on business with revenue of $20 million or more annually. But companies like Safeway told Q13 News that the tax would end up hurting the city’s poorest families.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told GeekWire that she is "deeply concerned about the impact this decision will have on a large range of jobs.

Amazon recently announced 3,000 more jobs in Vancouver, British Columbia and 2,000 in Boston.