According to Seattle Times, Amazon's footprint on the Emerald City has grown so large that Seattle is now the largest company town in the nation. As the article outlines, the e-commerce giant now "occupies a mind-boggling 19 percent of all prime office space in the city," which marks "the most for any employer in a major U.S. city." The company's growth has spurred a strong economy with increasing wages and home prices. Their current 8.1 million square feet of office spaces is anticipated to grow to over 12 million over the next five years.
As the article outlines, corporate tenancy tends to take on a fragmented pattern in large cities. "For example, financial giant Citi has 3.7 million square feet in New York — making it the second-largest major-city office tenant in absolute terms after Amazon. But it represents less than 3 percent of Class A office space in the Big Apple." And though Nationwide, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is comparable to Amazon in terms of percentage of office space, it occupies "less than half of Amazon's total square footage" in Seattle.
To be sure, Amazon is significantly larger than any other company in the city, as Safeco Insurance and the University of Washington are the next two biggest companies occupying about 400,000 square feet each. And as John Scholes, CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association adds, "Amazon's expansion has led, in the short time since the end of the recession, to a record level of private investment as well as significant levels of public infrastructure investment."
Top 5 Urban Campuses in America
By Percentage of City's Office Space:
- Amazon (Seattle) | 19.2%
- Nationwide Insurance (Columbus) | 16.0%
- El Paso Electric Company (El Paso) | 14.5%
- Blue Cross (Jacksonville) | 11.7%
- Adobe Systems (San Jose) | 8.7%
By Size (Square Feet):
- Amazon (Seattle) | 8,100,000
- Citi (New York) | 3,674,030
- AT&T (Dallas) | 3,406,730
- Morgan Stanley (New York) | 3,288,298
- Chevron (Houston) | 2,911,142
(Source: CoStar c/o The Seattle Times)
Though some have complained of rising home prices and ever-congested roadways, Simon Stevenson, director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington says overall, "the positives, economically, outweigh the potential downside." According to a Downtown Seattle Association report, retail sales in downtown Seattle grew 19 percent between 2010 and 2015, a rate significantly faster than seen in other nearby cities.