Amazon recently confirmed rumors and numerous reports that the industry giant is planning a big move to Bellevue.
GeekWire broke the news last week after Dave Clark, the senior vice president in charge of Amazon’s worldwide operations team, sent out an email on April 3 announcing the move. The Seattle-based team will relocate its thousands of employees to Bellevue by 2023.
“We opened our first office building in Bellevue in 2017,” an Amazon spokesperson said. “It’s a city with great amenities, a high-quality of life for our employees, and fantastic talent – and it’s recognized for its business-friendly environment. We look forward to continue growing our presence in Bellevue and bringing more jobs to the city.”
The city of Bellevue quickly made an official statement welcoming Amazon, mentioning the corporation was returning home to its origin in the city.
“We’re excited by today’s announcement that Amazon plans to expand its presence in Bellevue,” Bellevue mayor, John Chelminiak wrote. “As a community we’ve worked hard to anticipate this type of positive growth downtown, and Amazon is a natural fit. It’s also critical that these types of jobs stay in the region. Bellevue values our business community and we look forward to working with the company as their transition progresses. Welcome home, Amazon.”
Amazon has already leased space in Bellevue including a 16-year lease starting in 2020 for an office tower that formerly housed Expedia, with enough space for 4,500 employees. The company already has 700 employees in Bellevue office space and will begin moving the worldwide operations team this month, according to multiple reports.
“I’m excited to share the news that we’re planning to migrate worldwide operations to Bellevue starting this year,” said Clark in the email obtained by GeekWire. “This move gives room to grow while maintaining the campus feel that we’ve come to love around South Lake Union.”
The move comes after several changes to Amazon’s “HQ2” plans. The company planned to split its second headquarters between New York City’s Queens neighborhood and Crystal City, Virginia, but later pulled out of a New York office, but still promises about 25,000 jobs in Northern Virginia.
Bellevue officials estimate Amazon’s move to Bellevue will bring about 6,500 new jobs. Chelminiak added that it will be a net gain of about 2,500 to 4,000 jobs as Expedia leaves Bellevue for Seattle.
“We’re very pleased that amazon is going to have a presence in Bellevue,” Chelminiak said. “The rate of growth seems to be faster than we’ve anticipated and its been a fairly long growth cycle… We’re excited to have a number of companies interested in Bellevue.”
Bellevue also anticipates a large growth in transportation by 2023 as Sound Transit aims to open its East Link extension.
Amazon’s search for office space outside Seattle followed the city’s contentious “head tax,” potentially costing Amazon and other large companies about $275 for every employee, each year, over five years. Seattle officials rescinded the tax after complaints from Amazon and other local companies.
Despite the city of Seattle backing down from the head tax, Amazon subleased an office space in Rainier Square that it previously planned to occupy and has now announced the Bellevue move.
While Amazon is making a move to Bellevue, it still maintains a major presence in Seattle, employing about 45,000 people with 10,000 more openings for Seattle employees.
This story originally appeared in the Bellevue Reporter, a sibling paper of The Daily Herald.