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Amazon details huge expansion plans for Bellevue, Washington

The company says it'll bring more than 15,000 employees to the city in the coming years.

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At Amazon's headquarters in Seattle.

James Martin/CNET

Amazon said Thursday that it's planning to rapidly expand its hiring in Bellevue, Washington, just east of its Seattle headquarters, in a sign of the company's continued interest in bringing on tens of thousands more employees.

The company said it's on track to create over 15,000 new jobs in Bellevue within the next few years, after it opened its first office in 2017 and now has 2,000 employees there. In comparison, Amazon's Seattle headquarters has over 50,000 employees.

Signs of Amazon's interest in Bellevue, which is already home to T-Mobile, have been obvious since last year. That's when Amazon revealed plans for a 43-story office tower, its tallest building anywhere, as it continued to grow its real estate portfolio there. Last April, the company told employees in its operations business that they'd be moved to Bellevue as well, though the company says it plans to hire new people in Seattle with the additional space created. Overall, Amazon claims it doesn't plan to use the Bellevue expansion to reduce headcount in Seattle, noting that it has over 10,000 job openings in Seattle.

The announcement comes almost exactly a year after Amazon nixed its plans to bring 25,000 new employees to New York City, following heavy criticism from local officials and activists. The company has been moving ahead with its efforts to build a separate 25,000-employee site in Arlington County, Virginia, but the world's largest e-commerce company has been working on ways to make up for that lost project.

Amazon has been increasing staff at its tech hubs around the country and also in December opted to hire 1,500 more people in New York.

But it still needed to find another way to bring on even more people so it could continue its speedy growth into a variety of businesses, including groceries, voice computing and robotics. Added to that, Amazon has had a difficult relationship with Seattle's local government, so it likely wanted to find a new place to expand.

Last week, Amazon said its employee count in the latest quarter rose to 798,000 people, up from 750,000 just three months prior.