Amazon to bring 15,000 employees to Bellevue as rapid expansion in Seattle-area city continues

The tall building in the middle of the photo is a rendering of Amazon’s 600 Bellevue Tower. (NBBJ Rendering)

Amazon said it plans to expand its headcount to more than 15,000 people in Bellevue, Wash., the growing city 10 miles east of Seattle where the tech giant was originally born, within a few years.

That’s a more than 7X increase over the 2,000 people the company has in Bellevue today. Amazon opened its first office in the city in 2017, and has steadily been leasing properties across downtown since then.

The centerpiece of the company’s Bellevue presence is a huge new office tower planned on a site Amazon bought for $195 million last year. Amazon showed off the latest rendering of the new 600 Bellevue Tower as part of today’s announcement.

This is the first time Amazon has quantified its future headcount plans for Bellevue as part of its recent expansion. Last year, GeekWire reported that Amazon planned to move its crucial worldwide operations team to Bellevue, taking thousands of people out of Seattle to the new Bellevue campus by 2022.

The growth in Bellevue comes as Amazon has butted heads with Seattle’s City Council and slowed its expansion in the city. Last year, Amazon gave up one of its highest profile leases of the last decade, putting the high-profile Rainier Square building on the sub-lease market. After scooping up pretty much every available property in Seattle for much of the last decade, Amazon hasn’t leased any new office space in the city for a couple years.

Jeff Bezos started Amazon in the 1990s out of the garage of a 66-year-old house he rented — that sold for $1.5 million last year —in Bellevue, less than 2 miles north of its new downtown buildings. As the company grew, Bezos opted for a dense urban campus in Seattle over a suburban headquarters like Microsoft in nearby Redmond, Wash., or Apple in the Bay Area.

Though Amazon’s growth in the area is now centered on a city that some would consider a suburb, Amazon is very much sticking to its urban principles with the Bellevue campus. All the offices are within a 10-minute walk of each other, the company said. And 600 Bellevue Tower will sit on top of a future Sound Transit light rail station that will quickly shuttle people between Seattle and Bellevue when it opens in a couple years.

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