Update, 9:20 p.m.: Late Thursday, the Amazon spokesperson who had declared a finite size for the Seattle campus told the Seattle Times that they misspoke.
“We currently have more than 9,000 open roles in Seattle and will continue to evaluate future growth,” Amazon said in a statement to the Times.
A spokesperson has not returned a request for comment.
It’s a reminder that Amazon has not been solely based in Seattle for a long time: Right after scrapping plans for half of a second headquarters in New York City, Amazon announced it would not be expanding its Seattle presence after it finishes its current construction, the Seattle Times first reported this morning. The company won’t be seeking new offices to absorb the estimated 25,000 jobs it had planned for New York or any growth Seattle would have shouldered. Rather, Amazon will distribute those jobs amidst satellite offices it already has, those that didn’t get any HQ2-like fanfare: a pre-existing New York presence, as well as Boston, the Bay Area, Vancouver, BC, and others. While Amazon may have started in a Bellevue garage, it’s been bigger than Seattle for quite some time.
The company still has a lot of growing to finish up before it stops, though—and it’s not like the retail giant is about to shrink. Planned construction, noted the Times, is still set to add 2 million square feet to its campus, for a total of 14 million square feet.
Amazon had already threatened to halt expansion in Seattle last year as the city closed in on passing the Employee Hours Tax—better-known as the “head tax”—designed to tax giant businesses like Amazon to raise money for affordable housing and homelessness programs. The company halted a major construction process just north of downtown and announced it was looking into ways to sublease its 722,000 square feet office space in the under-construction Rainier Tower building.
Construction resumed after the Seattle City Council passed a watered-down version of the tax instead. The council would ultimately repeal the tax after public pressure, despite outcry in support of the tax in about equal measure. While it looked like Amazon was all set to stay in Rainier Tower, recent reports have surfaced that after all the hullabaloo, they might be subleasing that space after all. (A spokesperson for Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment.)
But it’s not like a cap on growth would make Seattle any less of a company town. More than 45,000 Seattleites are employed at Amazon. An August 2017 Seattle Times report found that Amazon takes up 19 percent of all prime office space in the entire city—and it’s been making its mark on Seattle for a long time. According to data from Zillow, home values have gone up have up 83 percent and rents have increased by 47 percent since Amazon moved into their South Lake Union headquarters in 2010. While every generation of Seattle renters are highly rent-burdened, according to one report, another report says tech workers in Seattle spend less of their income on housing than anywhere else.