Signs point to Apple making its Seattle presence clear as logo appears at new office near Amazon

In a neighborhood where it’s tough to tell what might be an Amazon office building or just another apartment complex, Apple is moving into Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood and erasing any doubt about who occupies 333 Dexter Ave.

Construction fencing has come down in recent days around the perimeter of the office building, which sits on the edge of Amazon’s urban campus. And white street-level signs bearing a blue Apple logo have gone up, along both Dexter Avenue to the east and Seventh Avenue to the west.

Apple first announced its plans for a major expansion in Seattle in June 2019. The company said at the time that it would grow to 2,000 employees in the city over the next five years, calling Seattle a “key engineering hub.�

The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant has had about 500 employees in Seattle, working out of Two Union Square, a 56-story office tower downtown.

A new Apple sign in front of 333 Dexter, an office building that will be home to the tech giant’s Seattle workers. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

The signage in South Lake Union is a departure from what GeekWire reported in 2018, when the company’s name wasn’t even listed on the main directory in the Two Union Square lobby. “Most floors have little-to-no trace of Apple’s presence except key card readers outside entrances asking people to swipe their Apple ID badges,� GeekWire noted at the time.

But in the tech epicenter established by Amazon and now occupied by other large companies such as Google and Facebook, competition for engineering talent is fierce. Google’s rainbow-colored name is splashed across its multiple buildings just to the south of the shores of Lake Union.

An earlier rendering of Apple’s new Seattle home at 333 Dexter. (Miller Hull Partnership)

Dexter 333, built on the site of the old KING 5 broadcasting headquarters, includes two 12-story office towers totaling 630,000 square feet. Using conventional office space ratios, the complex could hold approximately 3,000 to 4,500 workers.

Apple did not respond to GeekWire’s inquiry about how many workers it now plans to put in the space, what they’ll work on or when they might be moving in — especially as many tech workers are now doing their jobs remotely during the pandemic. We’ll update this post when we hear back.

ENGINEERING OUTPOSTS: Track who has set up shop in the Seattle region.

In 2019, Apple said it would be hiring for a wide range of engineering roles including in hardware and software and that the company was actively recruiting for iCloud in Seattle.

Apple’s plan to expand significantly outside of Silicon Valley took on a much different tone than Amazon’s so-called HQ2 search. In early 2018, Apple announced plans to build a second campus with little fanfare and quietly spent the year making its decision. In December 2018, it revealed more details about the project, unveiling a plan to build a 15,000-person campus in Austin, with smaller 1,000-person offices in Seattle, Culver City, Calif., and San Diego.

In the time since Apple settled on 333 Dexter, the other tech giants in South Lake Union have been scooping up more office space away from Seattle, on the other side of Lake Washington. Amazon has big plans in Bellevue; Google is growing in Kirkland; and Facebook bought what was going to be REI’s giant new HQ in Bellevue.

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