In the heart of the neighborhood where Amazon has made its home, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday that she was interested in talking about a “different HQ2,” as she welcomed Apple and that tech giant’s plans for a significant expansion in the city.
Expanding upon an earlier promise to grow to 1,000 employees in Seattle, Apple and Durkan said that the plan is to now reach 2,000 over the next five years. The first 200 new employees will be hired by the end of the year, Apple vice president of global real estate Kristina Raspe said Monday at an event at the new Seattle campus.
“We have room to grow and we are thriving,” Durkan said at a news conference at 333 Dexter, a large new South Lake Union office complex that is currently under construction. “Apple’s expansion in Seattle is another example of the growing opportunity that our region and our city shows.”
The Dexter location has room for far more than 2,000 employees. The project includes two 12-story office towers totaling 630,000 square feet. Using conventional office space ratios, the complex could hold approximately 3,000 to 4,500 workers. Apple currently has about 500 employees in Seattle.
“If you look at where they’ve grown elsewhere in the country, their growth has been exponential to what they anticipated just because of how vibrant their products are,” Durkan said. “I think it’s a really good sign. I’m not going to read too much into it but I hope they fill up the building.”
Apple is vague about which parts of the company’s vast business the Seattle campus will focus on but says it will be hiring for a wide range of engineering roles including in hardware and software. Raspe did note that the company is actively recruiting for iCloud in Seattle.
The new campus will be open by the end of the year according to Raspe.
Durkan said that Apple did not receive any government incentives in exchange for the job creation in Seattle. Amazon’s request for incentives as it considered cities for its second headquarters was one of the most controversial aspects of its HQ2 search.
Both Apple and Amazon are fast-growing tech giants with appetites for out-of-town office space. But they take dramatically different approaches to finding and moving into new homes. While Amazon launched an epic, year-long HQ2 contest between cities in one of the most visible and talked-about economic development deals of all time, Apple took the more traditional route when it decided to open its own HQ2. In early 2018, Apple announced plans to build a second campus with little fanfare and quietly spent the year making its decision.
In December, Apple revealed more details about the project, unveiling a plan to build a 15,000-person campus in Austin, with smaller 1,000-person offices in Seattle, Culver City, Calif., and San Diego.
Apple isn’t the only Bay Area tech company eyeing Seattle for a second home. Earlier this month, Salesforce revealed plans to buy Seattle-based Tableau and make the city its second headquarters. More than 100 out-of-town tech companies have set up engineering centers in Seattle to mine the region’s deep reserve of tech talent.
At the event Monday, Durkan said she is excited to see companies who share “our values” double down on their growth in Seattle.
“The landscape is changing,” Durkan said. “We saw one of our local companies, Tableau, be bought by Salesforce which has a very deep commitment to housing affordability and equity. I think we’re going to see continued discussions around how do we make sure that Seattle really shares that prosperity.”
GeekWire reporter Kurt Schlosser contributed to this story.