Alexa, is Amazon opening in downtown Santa Barbara?
Yes, it is.
The Amazon workers on site are not allowed to speak to the media on the record, but a person close to senior leadership said the company was planning to hire 150 more people in Santa Barbara.
The lobby on Monday afternoon at the 1001 State St. building was decked out with a “Day 1” banner, and champagne glasses that appeared to be filled with orange juice.
Tenant improvements have been underway since mid-2018 at the site, which previously was a Saks Fifth Avenue store.
It will now be a home for engineers working on Alexa, the company’s virtual assistant.
Although initially there were rumors of a retail component on the first floor of the building, it was unclear on Monday if the building would have one or be exclusively office space for Amazon.
“We’re excited to grow our teams in Santa Barbara — a city with a strong talent pool, high quality of life, and innovative culture,” a company spokesperson said Monday.
Downtown employees and vendors were buzzing Monday, talking about the company’s arrival.
“Having Amazon in Santa Barbara will encourage other tech companies to want to set up offices in our downtown,” said downtown property owner Ray Mahboob. “Young tech workers like working in our downtown because of the close proximity to the beach, mountain hikes, coffee shops, restaurants, wineries and breweries.
“Amazon’s starting pay is very healthy, which will help spending at our local businesses. Tech companies downtown will help diversity our local economy that is currently dependent on tourism.”
The hundreds of new employees will likely give downtown a much-needed boost, said City Councilwoman Meagan Harmon, whose district includes the downtown corridor.
“With these positives, however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge our responsibility as policy makers to be mindful of the impacts on our community. An influx of new tech workers will spur economic activity, but those same workers need housing and other services.
“We must continue to put in place policies that, in particular, allow for thoughtful housing development in our city so all its residents, old and new, can thrive here.”
Amazon currently is advertising online for 43 Santa Barbara-based jobs.