CUPERTINO -- City officials and Apple's (AAPL) chief financial officer Wednesday celebrated the launch of the company's spaceship-shaped headquarters after a series of unanimous City Council votes that pave the way for construction to begin on the 2.8 million-square-foot behemoth by the end of the year.

After Tuesday night's council votes, Mayor Orrin Mahoney and Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer joined each other at a news conference Wednesday to cement the friendship between the iconic Silicon Valley company and the city that hosts it.

"It is a very special relationship," Mahoney said. "There's an emotional connection on both sides."

Mahoney said Cupertino is recognized around the world because of Apple, which he called "a very special company."

Oppenheimer was quick to return the warmth.

"This is a very special moment for us at Apple," he said. "Cupertino is Apple's home. We love Cupertino."

Oppenheimer promised that Apple will create "the best office building ever built in the world. ... It will be a place for the best team in the industry to innovate for decades to come."

Final and largely perfunctory votes will be taken in November, but Tuesday's unanimous approval made it clear the city supports the dream of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs for "Apple Campus 2."

The four-story ring of curved glass will be home to as many as 14,200 employees. Even though it will be surrounded by acres of green space, its location near busy Interstate 280 will cause "significant but unavoidable" congestion, according to traffic analysts who spoke Tuesday.

In response, Apple promised to underwrite roadway improvements to alleviate the congestion throughout Cupertino, and vowed to raise from under 30 to 34 the percentage of its employees who will be using public transit or Apple's shuttle buses to commute to work.

"Steve transformed Apple into one of the most innovative companies in the world and we understand the responsibilities that come from carrying his legacy forward with this project," Dan Whisenhunt, Apple's head of real estate and facilities, told the council Tuesday. "We've designed it with the same care and attention to detail as we do with all Apple products."

With Councilman Rod Sinks recusing himself because his wife works for Apple, Mahoney and his three colleagues quickly took up a series of votes that represented Cupertino's first official blessing of the Apple campus.

Much of the session was a rehash of environmental and other impacts posed by the project, with the first hour devoted to traffic.

"The project will certainly cause traffic issues," Councilman Mark Santoro said shortly before the vote, "but I'm happy to hear Apple's going to work with us on solving these problems."

Whisenhunt, Apple's point person on the project, said the building would be a manifestation of Jobs' lifelong love of the city.

"Right here at this same podium two years ago," he said, "Steve shared his excitement about this campus and about creating a home where Apple grew up. Cupertino is synonymous with Apple; it's on every box" of Apple products "and we're immensely proud of that."

During a public-comment session, most speakers wholeheartedly supported Apple.

"As my mom used to say, 'Don't bite the hand that feeds you,' " longtime resident Carol Baker told the council. "If we don't honor Apple with this building, they'll leave. There's no reason for them to stay here and be loyal to a community that doesn't support them. But if they left, it would be a disaster for the city."

Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.