In March, CHS showed Amazon was, indeed, a “Go” on E Pike. In July, Seattle-based tech news site Geekwire gave us the best look yet at what is to come in the 500-block, 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: “an unusually large space for a potential new Amazon Go store… the first in a residential area.”
For Prime Day, CHS is giving you the first peek inside. Yup, looks like an Amazon grocery store.
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. The company currently operates nine Amazon Go stores including three in Seattle.
Inside the cashless, mostly employee-less, checkout-less, quick mart concept, shoppers will check-in with their phones while the shelf weight sensors log selections like the world’s largest minibar. An array of cameras will monitor your every shopping move while artificial intelligence will guess at exactly what you will do next in the store — and maybe beyond.
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.
The E Pike store will join Amazon’s Whole Foods that opened at Broadway and Madison last October in serving the area.
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 to also sell beer and wine.
The company has yet to confirm the E Pike project and construction continues at the site so an opening is nearing but seemingly not imminent. Keep an eye on the papered windows and the chemical toilets for construction crews out front. When the Honey Buckets disappear, it will probably be nearly time to start shopping.
UPDATE 7/18/19: Bloomberg Businessweek is out with a fascinating look at the massive effort to create Amazon Go and the history includes the until now unrevealed backstory of exactly why the retail giant’s Capitol Hill project has taken so long to open — Originally, E Pike was destined to be home to the first Amazon grocery store and the huge tenant space was leased when the concept was rich with a much more complicated, probably impossible to scale vision:
At first, the IHM team envisioned large-scale stores of about 30,000 square feet, roughly the size of a suburban supermarket. But after a few months, the group decided such a megamarket was overly ambitious and cut the size of the proposed store in half.
The top-secret research group “created the first models of stores using kids’ blocks, bookshelves, and other items lying around the office.”
“For its first actual store, it also anonymously leased the ground floor of a new luxury apartment building in Seattle’s wealthy Capitol Hill neighborhood,” Businessweek reports. “Permits filed with the city included plans for large produce and dairy coolers and an on-site kitchen for preparation of fresh foods.”
But Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, the story goes, saw the complicated early vision when he visited a mocked-up store and didn’t like what he saw. The new Amazon store vision? A bet “customers would be drawn to a more streamlined experience—the physical equivalent of the company’s famous one-click ordering—even if it lacked the personal touches of a farmers market or boutique butcher shop.”
The pivot sent Amazon in new directions shaping smaller stores ladened with even more hardware and technology. Meanwhile, the E Pike site sat empty and waiting.
Until this year. “Earlier this year, Amazon quietly filed new plans with the city of Seattle and, to the relief of neighbors, resumed work on the empty space. Plans for an on-site kitchen were withdrawn, and “optical speed lanes” were added to the blueprints,” Businessweek reports.
“But if you stand on the sidewalk and squint through a gap in the frosted glass, you can just make out the telltale shelving of what appears to be an Amazon Go store,” they write.
Or, you can save yourself the trip and read CHS. Your call.
UPDATE 1/29/20: The new, larger format Amazon Go destined to open on E Pike won’t add yet another shopping market-related brand to the Amazon family. According to the most recent permit paperwork for the still under construction Capitol Hill project, the new effort will be labelled Amazon Go Grocery. There is not yet an opening date announced for the store.
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