Nearly six months after Boeing first acknowledged it might sell its local Commercial Airplanes headquarters building in Renton, Wash., it officially listed its Longacres campus for sale Tuesday — a move sure to intensify doubts about the aerospace giant's long-term corporate presence in Washington state.
As Boeing seeks to drastically lower costs during the pandemic-driven aviation downturn, the 215-acre Longacres site joins five other Boeing properties in the Puget Sound region now up for sale — in locations from Frederickson in the south to Everett in the north, including other large office buildings in Renton and Bellevue.
The company aims to shed approximately 2.5 million square feet of office space — a 7% reduction in total Boeing office space in the region — plus more than 300 acres of unused land.
Conrad Chun, vice president of communications at the Commercial Airplanes division, denied that the sale of the headquarters and other sites indicates a gradual withdrawal of Boeing from its Puget Sound roots.
"Selling these buildings does not represent any change in our commitment to the Puget Sound region," he wrote in an email. "Executives are still based here, living here, but their presence isn't tied to a building."
Chun said the sell-off reflects a reassessment of the aerospace giant's office needs, given Boeing's 15,000 jobs cut in the state last year and the experience during the COVID-19 pandemic that remote work is a viable option.
He said the Commercial Airplanes headquarters will still be here — just not in a building.
"We are going to be more flexible in where and how people work," Chun said. "People will not be tied to large offices but when they need to be, they will be closer to where production and delivery occurs."
That includes the boss.
Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal has relocated to an office overlooking the flight line at the Boeing Field 737 delivery center in Seattle and will move around as needed to other sites in Everett, Renton and elsewhere in the region, as well as making regular visits to the Boeing South Carolina complex in North Charleston, S.C.