Amazon on Tuesday announced it had purchased the former Lord & Taylor Fifth Avenue building in Manhattan from WeWork, where it will open a 630,000-square-foot office. The acquisition comes as the e-commerce giant moves to expand its tech hubs in Dallas, Detroit, Denver, Phoenix, San Diego and New York.
Amazon will spend more than $1.4 billion on its new offices, including the Fifth Avenue building. The company expects to add 3,500 jobs, and employees in these cities will work on Amazon's Alexa, Amazon Advertising, Amazon Fashion, OpsTech, Amazon Fresh and AWS, as well as other elements of the business.
Previous Lord & Taylor owner Hudson's Bay Company originally sold the flagship to WeWork in February of last year.
At a time when many retailers are shrinking or going out of business altogether, Amazon is expanding its tech footprint across the country. The e-commerce giant expanded its workforce in Chicago last year and in Boston and Vancouver the year before. The company is also reportedly in the midst of exploring how to grow its physical presence through repurposing malls as fulfillment centers.
Meanwhile, as Amazon grows in size, it's brick-and-mortar brethren continue to decline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lord & Taylor, which had been in trouble before the coronavirus outbreak, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month with plans to close 19 of its stores for good, signaling the further decline of America's oldest department store. The company announced Thursday that another five stores have been added to that count, leaving the department store with just 14 stores, compared to the 38 it filed for bankruptcy with.
As Amazon picks up the department store's flagship to expand on its tech operations, the company's focus is on roles like cloud infrastructure architects, software engineers, product managers and user experience designers.
"People from all walks of life come to Amazon to develop their career – from recent graduates looking for a place to turn their ideas into high-impact products, to veterans accessing new jobs in cloud computing thanks to our upskilling programs," Beth Galetti, senior vice president of human resources at Amazon, said in a statement. "These 3,500 new jobs will be in cities across the country with strong and diverse talent pools. We look forward to helping these communities grow their emerging tech workforce."
Though the coronavirus pandemic has boosted Amazon's Prime membership growth and overall demand, the company has also been in the spotlight recently for less positive news. Amazon workers went on strike on May 1 in protest of inadequate workplace conditions and wages during the coronavirus pandemic, and CEO Jeff Bezos faced questions from the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee about the sale of fake items and its difficult relationships with sellers and competitors.