In video: Marty Hartman, executive director, Mary’s Place and John Schoettler, Amazon VP of global real estate and facilities

The nation’s largest online retailer is about to undertake one of its biggest philanthropic ventures to date.

Amazon is devoting half of its new, six-story headquarters in downtown Seattle to a permanent homeless shelter, providing it with a 47,000 sq. ft. of space — totally rent free. The facility will have private rooms that can hold 65 families, or about 200 people. It is expected to open in early 2020.

Amazon had let the non-profit Mary’s Place organization move a shelter into the building, formerly a Travelodge motel, when the online giant purchased it last year. It was assumed that the shelter would move out when Amazon tore down the building to convert it into its office space. (The groundbreaking is set for the fall.) Instead, the retailer decided to make it permanent.

John Schoettler, Amazon’s VP for…