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Amazon a ‘Go’ on E Pike

(Image: Amazon)

Through dozens of permits and pages of planning updates, CHS has found the first documentation that global retail giant Amazon is, indeed, opening a new cashier-less grocery store on Capitol Hill.

An otherwise innocuous conveyance permit required for elevator work in the AVA Capitol Hill building is the first document filed with the city over the past four years for the 600 E Pike project to include the name “Amazon.”

“No comment,” an Amazon spokesperson offered when CHS confronted the $855 billion and change company with its latest Washington Post-worthy, Watergate-level reporting on the store.

Earlier this month, CHS reported on construction kicking back into motion on the large, 10,000-square-foot retail project in the ground floor of the seven-story AVA development built on the auto row bones of the block’s  Mercedes Benz dealership.

The E Pike store will join Amazon’s Whole Foods that opened at Broadway and Madison in October in serving the area.

In 2017, property owners along E Pike told CHS that Amazon held a longterm lease for the space and that only the retail giant could afford to work on a timeline that left such a massive and expensive commercial space empty for years. The senior program manager included in permit filings on the project worked on the University Village Amazon bookstore and the launch team for Amazon Go.

Amazon Retail, LLC, the project owner listed on the conveyance permit, is the entity behind permitting efforts for Amazon’s meatspace retail efforts including Amazon Go elsewhere in Seattle and beyond. Seattle-based tech site Geekwire has also been unable to confirm Amazon’s plans but did dig up permitting indicating that the store will utilize an “optical speed lane” entry system.

Amazon Go is the company’s cashless, mostly employee-less, checkout-less, quick mart concept. Shoppers check-in with their phones while the shelf weight sensors log selections like the world’s largest minibar. An array of cameras monitor your every shopping move while artificial intelligence will guess at exactly what you will do next in the store — and maybe beyond.

At more than 10,000 square feet, the E Pike Amazon store will be much larger than any of its existing automated Amazon Go cashless convenience store outlets. It currently operates nine Amazon Go cashless convenience stores including three in Seattle.

Permits indicate the Capitol Hill space will also host a commercial grade kitchen for food preparation. Amazon Go stores typically feature a wide selection of “grab and go” food with much of it made on-site. And there will be seating.

The plan is also to also sell beer and wine:

Amazon Go liquor won’t exactly be “grand and go,” however. The company will have an Amazon Go “associate” on hand to check ID for beer and wine sales, throwing a bit of a monkey wrench into the concept’s efforts at high scale, minimal human retail.

The E Pike store will open as Amazon is reportedly diving more fully into the brick and mortar grocery business. The Wall Street Journal reported that the retail giant has plans for a wave of new grocery stores across the country including new Amazon Gos and a new grocery brand that would be separate from Whole Foods. It also comes in a city where Amazon threw its weight around helping to repeal the Seattle head tax and in a neighborhood in an ongoing, seemingly neverending love/hate relationship with “tech” and “tech bros” where even the Microsoft engineers get a chuckle from the latest anti-Bezos graffiti.

With the company declining to comment, there is no official word about when the Capitol Hill store will open. But the work to build it appears likely to wrap up soon. The parking closure on the block to make room for work trucks and construction access is slated to last through April 1st. The company will also need to get a liquor license wrapped up before you’ll be able to grab a six-pack.

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22 thoughts on “Amazon a ‘Go’ on E Pike

  1. OMG, the elevator permit! Someone got sloppy. ;)

    Definitely Watergate level.

    Seriously, I’m excited to check out the store when it finally opens. I feel like we’re not supposed to admit this in public right now, but I really like Go and I would love to see the concept expand.

    You can revoke my woke card now.

  2. Oh thank god. At least now we can satisfy more of the burgeoning demand for overpaid people to pay more for groceries, avoid nearly all interactions with humans, and put people out of jobs. SOMETHING needs to help keep the Seattle Freeze from ever thawing out.

    • Fewer people in line at Safeway, QFC, Trader Joe’s, etc. Always a silver lining.

      I remember when Trader Joe’s opened there store the big 2 really upped their game. Better produce, more organic and so on. Maybe GO will do the same.

  3. I’ve seen a truck unloading a lot of ventilation duct parts twice in the last week, so I suspected some sort of kitchen situation.

    • I don’t think it’s that bad to not want your grocery shopping to be a dystopian experience. Which, it can sort of resemble at the north QFC on Broadway at times. The employees make a heroic effort to keep things normal, but they can only do so much.

  4. I look forward to trying it out (given how lousy QFC Harvard Market can be).

    Although I still think these cashless stores are probably unconstitutional.

    • Unconstitutional…. really. Did you learn anything in civics class?

      This a store, it’s private property… the constitution sets the power of *the government*, and while there may be laws that also regulate private businesses in the same manner, it’s not the same. Something a private business does cannot be unconstitutional – in violation of a law or statute, yes, but not unconstitutional.

      • Actually businesses do unconstitutional stuff all the time. Think Hobby Lobby denying legal family planning options in their employee medical insurance plans. I think their point is that these businesses discriminate against the poor and underbanked. Perhaps not explicitly unconstitutional, but definitely exclusionary. A few states and municipalities around the country are considering banning these cashless stores. It’s not far-fetched that maybe left-leaning Seattle City Council could consider doing the same.

      • You missed the point… Even though many of the constitution’s values are reflected in actual law, businesses cannot do things that are ‘unconstitutional’ because they are not subject to it – that document spells out how our *government* works and what powers it does and does not have. The only power the document has is to be sure that our government doesn’t violate our rights. If we feel strongly enough about something that we want it to apply to the private entities also, it needs to be be put into a form that is relevant to them.

        Personally I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with it. Businesses are free to choose how you pay them and even who patronizes their stores. As long as they aren’t discriminating against a protected class (and non-smart phone users are definitely not one) then there’s not boo anyone can say. They can be members only, like Costco, they could only accept Canadian currency or barter for bushels of apples if they chose to… it’s their choice. You don’t like it, don’t buy what they offer.

  5. Just don’t pick your nose and then touch the food. Lots of cameras to check out reactions, keep everybody honest and gather marketing data.

    Amazon should pay people for lab rat duties.

    Tough if you prefer to pay with cash, but the need for $1000 smartphone keeps out the usual 7-11 poor, riff-raff, so another perfect safe space for soft core urbanites,

  6. Sounds like this might be the new retail stores the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was planning to open. They’re not going to be the Smaller Amazon GO convenience stores or Whole Foods stores with this being much larger it could be the grocery stores that will give Kroger a scare.

    At least somethings finally filling that space. It’s been an eyesore for a long time.

  7. I wonder how well theft prevention will be accomplished in a cashless store? I use the north QFC on Broadway, and the Safeway on 22nd the most, and I had to do a triple take when the clerks told how much they lose to theft each month. Mostly alcohol, and items that can be resold, but the amount almost seems impossible even if the stealing was mechanized. Somewhat related, the IKEA in Renton switched back to all cashiers a couple years back because with self checkout they were losing over 200k a month to theft! Humans suck.