Amazon announced plans for an 11-office complex in South Lake Union in 2007; now, it has more than 40 buildings it occupies or plans to move into soon locally.
Amazon has grown so fast in Seattle that it’s hard to keep up. December marks the 10th anniversary of Amazon’s announcement of its first big headquarters complex here. In the decade since, the company’s plans for its sprawling campus have quadrupled.
The website BuildZoom, which tracks the construction industry, this week pulled every permit filed with the city of Seattle for each Amazon-occupied office since the company first ramped up its growth spurt here 10 years ago. It then produced a visualization of the company’s office building growth over time, in part to give other cities a sense of what it will look like if Amazon picks them as the site of its second headquarters.
This GIF, which we’ve modified slightly to include only offices that we’ve confirmed, shows Amazon’s rapid expansion across South Lake Union and the Denny Triangle. The year indicates when the company first announced it would be moving into the offices, and includes some buildings still under construction:
Amazon announced a new 11-office headquarters in December 2007, when it consolidated and expanded its campus from various spots around downtown and Beacon Hill. At the time, city planners estimated the company might bring 6,000 employees to South Lake Union (it’s since brought more than six times that number).
“Transformation of the once-moribund South Lake Union neighborhood has been a high priority of Mayor Greg Nickels, who said Amazon’s move ‘hails the great things happening in South Lake Union,'” read The Seattle Times story on the announcement. The development was supposed to last the company through 2016.
As the recession hit, Amazon’s expansion plans slowed slightly, and it was unclear if the company would even fill all the space called for.
But that was a brief blip. The company’s stock price has increased 15-fold since the April 2009 groundbreaking for its first headquarters in South Lake Union.
By the time the headquarters began opening on Terry Avenue North in March 2010, Amazon had already started signing leases for more office space in the neighborhood. A steady drip of leases and new construction has continued; Amazon has opened a new office once every 2½ months, on average, since 2010. Most notably, Amazonians started moving into a second main campus, where the new spheres are under construction, in December 2015.
Amazon now occupies 37 offices, and will get above 40 soon. That includes two big upcoming leases downtown not captured in the GIF. Also not pictured: the company this summer took over a new tower in downtown Bellevue and has smaller offices in Queen Anne and Southeast Seattle.
The company had 5,000 employees in the city in 2010; now, it has more than 40,000.
The GIF also gives you a sense of just how drastically South Lake Union and the Denny Triangle have changed in the last decade. Most of the offices Amazon took over are brand new towers that popped up in the place of parking lots or low-slung buildings. In addition, Facebook and Google have also launched big expansions in South Lake Union recently, and about 8,000 new apartments are scheduled to open in the neighborhood through early 2019 to house all those new workers.
The headquarters is already the biggest urban campus in America, by far, and much of the construction is still to come.
Amazon occupies 8.1 million square feet in Seattle and plans to get to at least 12 million in the next five years.