While Microsoft's new presence in downtown Seattle got the headlines, the company 's name has been on the lease for a significant chunk of prime downtown property for years.
When the company acquired Visio in 1999, it also took over office space in World Trade Center East at 2211 Elliott Ave. Microsoft still owns the lease for about 184,000 square feet there, according to Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad, the building's landlord.
After the Visio acquisition, "the gravitational force of Redmond just kept pulling people out of that office to the point where it was empty," said Chris Owens, Microsoft general manager of worldwide real estate and facilities.
Microsoft sublet the space to another tenant and its remaining time on the lease is too short to move back.
"We have obligations to lease the space to people and then the lease will expire for us. ... I think that's the only choice there," Owens said.
"It's great space," he added. "If we had another bite at that apple, I would have liked to have had it."
Microsoft learned from its earlier experience with a downtown Seattle workforce.
"It informed us on how big a challenge it is to put a stake in the ground in Seattle when we have such an Eastside-centric population and business model," Owens said. "We learned we have to take conscious efforts to manage that and we have to pick groups that are very willing occupants in Seattle ... to make sure it's sustainable, that they want to be here, that they're not being forced to be here."