The “Spaceship” has barely taken off and Apple is already talking about landing another new campus someplace else. Could the Seattle region and its bursting-at-the-seams infrastructure make room for more tech workers — whatever Apple’s project eventually looks like?
The tech giant announced plans Wednesday to bolster the U.S. economy and its workforce with a set of initiatives that further the company’s commitment to job creation. The three areas Apple is focused on, according to a news release, include: direct employment by Apple; spending and investment with Apple’s domestic suppliers and manufacturers; and fueling the fast-growing app economy which Apple created with iPhone and the App Store.
Apple, which already employs 84,000 people in all 50 states, plans to create over 20,000 new jobs through hiring at existing campuses and a new one. But don’t rush to any Amazon-style HQ2 hopes just yet and start renaming towns or sending cactuses. There’s no request for proposals.
Apple does say the campus will be in a new location, presumably away from Cupertino, Calif., where the giant Apple Park just opened, and that it will initially house technical support for customers. And the location of the facility will be announced later in the year.
By combining new investments with its current pace of spending with domestic suppliers and manufacturers, the company’s direct contribution to the U.S. economy will be more than $350 billion over the next five years.
Just today, Apple broke ground on a new 1.1 million square foot data center in downtown Reno, Nev., The company says that over the last decade, it has invested billions of dollars in data centers and co-located facilities in seven U.S. states, including North Carolina, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Iowa.
So could Seattle or outlying areas such as Bellevue be a good fit for Apple?
Apple already has expanded its engineering operations in Seattle, announcing details last year about it ambitions around establishing Seattle as its hub for developing future artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies for products such as the iPhone, MacBook, Apple Watch and other Apple devices and services.
We don’t know exactly how many people out of the 20,000 Apple plans to stick in a new campus. A quarter of that expansion — 5,000 people — would require more than 750,000 square feet of office space, using a standard of 150 square feet per person.
Seattle’s tight office market makes it difficult to find a landing spot of that size. Amazon has scooped up virtually every new building in the pipeline, especially those in and around downtown Seattle.
If Apple is looking for a campus-like atmosphere, it does have a few choices. Real estate developments like Greg Smith’s “S” project in south Seattle and the Southport in Renton both fit the bill in terms of size and a campus atmosphere. Apple could also opt to take up residence in the Spring District in Bellevue, though it would have to share the area with other tenants like REI and the joint University of Washington-Tsinghua University Global Innovation Exchange.
There are a few office buildings in downtown Seattle and Bellevue planned and under construction that could make logical landing spots, should Apple be willing to go into multiple buildings.
We’ve contacted Seattle officials for comment on the news, to see if the city will make a play for the new Apple campus.
“Apple is a success story that could only have happened in America, and we are proud to build on our long history of support for the US economy,” CEO Tim Cook, said in a statement. “We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness. We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.”
Read more about Apple’s plan to invest in domestic suppliers and manufacturing partners, as well as how it wants to prepare students for the “app economy.”