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Amazon leases Kendall Square space

Amazon.com Inc. has leased space at a prominent office building in Kendall Square where it will open a large engineering center near other major tech players that have established beachheads in Massachusetts.

The online retailing giant is leasing 105,000 square feet on several floors at 101 Main St., at the foot of the Longfellow Bridge, according to a person briefed on the deal. The company has already posted more than 30 local openings for software engineers and other tech professionals, another clear signal Amazon is speeding up efforts to establish a large presence in Massachusetts’ technology community.

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Amazon did not return calls for comment. But in a statement released Tuesday on Amazon’s agreement to collect Massachusetts sales tax from local customers, Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy, said it looks “forward to creating hundreds of high-tech jobs in Massachusetts.”

The Main Street office puts Amazon a few short blocks from some of the other big names in US technology, including Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., both of which have significant operations in Kendall Square.

Earlier this year, Amazon bought Kiva Systems Inc., of North Reading, for $775 million. The company makes robots designed to move around items in warehouses and has about 240 employees. Massachusetts officials are also pressing Amazon to open a distribution center, which could generate significantly more jobs.

Amazon has been planning the Kendall Square office for a year and currently has a small operation working out of the nearby Cambridge Innovation Center. The 18-story building at 101 Main St. is part of the Riverfront Office Park, two interconnected towers totaling 663,721 square feet.

The space will be large enough for dozens of new employees. The 32 job postings found on the career site Indeed.com for Amazon positions in the Boston area are mostly for highly-skilled software engineers.

Some, according to the ads, would work on Amazon’s Kindle Fire Core Experience team, and others are within the company’s Web services division, which provides Internet services to business.

The tax collection deal with Massachusetts is part of a larger concession by Amazon to surrender its no-tax advantage as the company expands operations into more states. Current federal law requires retailers to collect sales tax from consumers only if they have physical presence, or nexus, such as an office or warehouse, in the state.

Amazon has been adding new distribution facilities in a bid to speed delivery of products and gain an edge over online competitors. In doing so, it recently struck deals with other states, including New Jersey, to collect sales taxes in exchange for receiving tax breaks to help finance construction of warehouses and other facilities.

But by agreeing to collect taxes for Massachusetts and other states, Amazon may also become less competitive price-wise with tax-free online rivals such as Overstock and eBay.

To blunt that edge, Amazon has also been asking state governments to help lobby for a national ­Internet sales tax law that would force all online merchants and other remote sellers to collect and remit sales taxes.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.
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