Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Amazon Go Is Finally A Go



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The first Amazon Go grocery and convenience store will open to the public Monday in Seattle — letting any person with an Amazon account, the Amazon Go app and a willingness to give up more of their personal privacy than usual simply grab anything they want and walk out, without going through a checkout line.
Emerging from internal testing a year later than originally expected, Amazon Go is the online retail pioneer’s attempt to reinvent the physical store with the same mindset that brought one-click shopping to the internet. After shoppers check in by scanning their unique QR code, overhead cameras work with weight sensors in the shelves to precisely track which items they pick up and take with them.
When they leave, they just leave. Amazon Go’s systems automatically debit their accounts for the items they take, sending the receipt to the app.
In my first test of Amazon Go this past week, my elapsed time in the store was exactly 23 seconds — from scanning the QR code at the entrance to exiting with my chosen item. Most of that time was spent choosing my preferred flavor of Odwalla juice.
Of course, customers can also linger and fill up a shopping bag, and that’s where Amazon Go gets really interesting, or disturbing, depending on your perspective.
The company says the tracking is precise enough to distinguish between multiple people standing side-by-side at a shelf, detecting which one picked up a yogurt or cupcake, for example, and which one was merely browsing. The system also knows when people pick up items and put them back, ensuring that Amazon doesn’t dock anyone’s account for milk or chips when they simply wanted to read the label.
The idea is to “push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning” to create an “effortless experience for customers,” said Dilip Kumar, Amazon Go vice president of technology, after taking GeekWire through the store this past week.
So what does this store say about the future of jobs?
It may be common for a convenience store to be sparsely staffed, but if taken to the scale of a grocery store, it’s easy to see how Amazon Go’s automated approach could translate into less need for retail workers, at least at checkout.
Apart from the kitchen staff preparing fresh food at the back, we saw only two workers in the 1,800-square-foot Amazon Go store during our visit: one at the beer and wine section to check IDs, and another just inside the entrance to greet customers. Workers are also needed to restock shelves and help customers.
Originally announced in December 2016 as a private beta for Amazon employees, the Amazon Go store was initially slated to open to the public in early 2017. But that public opening didn’t happen as expected. The delay came amid reports that the technology was encountering problems when too many people were in the store, and that the system struggled to track some items when they were moved.
However, when asked about those reports, Kumar said the delay wasn’t a result of the technology not working as expected. “Not at all. We’ve been operational from day one, and it has performed flawlessly,” he said.
Skeptical, I pressed him later during our visit. Has the system ever misidentified something that someone has pulled off the shelf? “Very rarely. The system is very, very accurate,” Kumar said, adding that it has been that way since the store started operating. Amazon says it has been developing the Amazon Go concept and its “Just Walk Out” technology for a total of five years now.
Then why the delay in the public opening?
“When we first opened (to employees), we knew that we needed a lot of traffic in order to be able to train the algorithms, to be able to learn from customer feedback, from customer behavior,” he said. “We thought we had to open to the public to get that traffic. But we had a significant amount — well beyond our expectations — of demand from just the Amazon population itself, which allowed us to learn everything that we needed.”
As evidence of that, we saw a steady stream of Amazon employees walking with orange Amazon Go bags through the company’s Day One building lobby while waiting for our tour of the Amazon Go store this past week.
Because of that demand, Kumar said, there was no need to rush the public debut. “We were able to take our time, learn, and now we’re ready.”
The learning wasn’t just technical. For example, Amazon stopped mixing dressing in with prepared salads for people who were watching their calories. Other feedback included requests for smaller portion sizes in Amazon Meal Kits, and clearer labeling of vegetarian food.
Amazon Go’s merchandising mix includes some non-food items such as batteries (Amazon Basics, of course), Band-Aids, Tylenol, Advil, and cold medicine. But the majority of the store is dedicated to food and beverage items.
That includes one section of Whole Foods 365 brand products. Amazon Go was unveiled before the tech giant’s $13.7 billion acquisition of the upscale grocery chain. Kumar said Amazon has no plans to roll out the Amazon Go technology in Whole Foods stores. He declined to say whether the company plans to open additional standalone Amazon Go locations. (A job posting last year hinted at the possibility of additional Amazon Go stores.)
Amazon Go is part of a broader push by Amazon into physical retail, including its Amazon Books stores and Amazon Fresh Pickup locations, in addition to the company’s massive bet on Whole Foods Market. More than any of those other initiatives, Amazon Go has the feel of a retail store created by a company with roots in e-commerce. Online, of course, it’s status quo to log in and leave virtual footprints as you shop.
But given that this is the physical world, privacy concerns were raised almost as soon as Amazon Go was announced.
Amazon’s experiment is likely to attract people comfortable giving up some privacy to experience something new. But if this is the future of physical retail, what does the company say to people who are uneasy about having their activities in the real world tracked so closely by a computer system?
First of all, Kumar emphasized that the focus of the Amazon Go system is on customer interactions with products at the shelves. Beyond that, he pointed to the sheer convenience of the setup.
“People are rushed. They’re in a hurry,” Kumar said, reciting Amazon’s mantra of starting with the customer and working backward. “People don’t like waiting in lines.” That’s the premise of the store, he said — “to be respectful of your time as a customer.”
The reality is, with loyalty programs and in-store accounts, purchases are already being tracked at many grocery stores, and of course security cameras are already ubiquitous in stores and other public places. But Amazon Go takes that to a new level by tying all of it together.
For now, at least, Amazon isn’t linking Amazon Go with Amazon.com online. For example, if you pull an item off a shelf and replace it because it isn’t quite what you were looking for, Amazon won’t show you an ad for a related product the next time you’re online. Kumar declined to speculate on whether that type of physical-to-online retargeting might be something Amazon does with Amazon Go data in the future.
Update, 9 a.m.: The Amazon Go apps for iOS and Android are already out, a day ahead of the opening.
Customers can use their existing Amazon credentials to log in to the Amazon Go app. In addition to providing a QR code to scan at the entrance to the store, the Amazon Go app is where the receipt shows up after customers leave the store carrying their chosen items.
Amazon Go, at 2131 7th Ave. in Seattle, will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. While there will be no checkout lines inside, the concept is novel enough that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see lines of people outside waiting to check it out.






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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Seattle Booming With Construction Of New Housing



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Seattle area added 12,000 residential units in 2017—with a similar outlook for 2018


That’s 50 percent more than 2016

That’s around 50 percent more than 2016, which saw 7,935 new units hit the market. And residential construction shows no signs of slowing down, with 11,999 units currently in the pipeline for 2018.
Those numbers apply to the metropolitan statistical area that includes Everett and Bellevue. And while the whole region is certainly feeling the effects of boomtown Seattle, residential growth in the city limits is robust on its own.
Numbers compiled by Seattle in Progress show around 8,000 new units completed in the past year—around 7,500 if you only count multifamily development—in the Seattle city limits alone. More than 30,000 additional units have permits approved, and another 30,000 have applied.
This record-breaking year for Seattle construction—2017 exceeded beginning-of-year estimates by around 2,000 units—ended with the region’s highest vacancy rate since 2010, meaning Seattle’s supply crunch could be starting to alleviate. It also shows some early signs of having some effect on rent, with a larger quarterly decrease in cost than usual.
But, in addition to these numbers still being early, rent is already high. Many renters are still feeling the effects of double-digit increases in recent years and, according to the Cost of Living Index, the sixth-highest cost of living in the country. And with a staggering shortage of condominium units across the state—and not too many in the pipeline—the construction boom is doing little to address the housing market inventory crunch.

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Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Seattle Booming With Construction Of New Housing



Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com


Seattle area added 12,000 residential units in 2017—with a similar outlook for 2018


That’s 50 percent more than 2016

That’s around 50 percent more than 2016, which saw 7,935 new units hit the market. And residential construction shows no signs of slowing down, with 11,999 units currently in the pipeline for 2018.
Those numbers apply to the metropolitan statistical area that includes Everett and Bellevue. And while the whole region is certainly feeling the effects of boomtown Seattle, residential growth in the city limits is robust on its own.
Numbers compiled by Seattle in Progress show around 8,000 new units completed in the past year—around 7,500 if you only count multifamily development—in the Seattle city limits alone. More than 30,000 additional units have permits approved, and another 30,000 have applied.
This record-breaking year for Seattle construction—2017 exceeded beginning-of-year estimates by around 2,000 units—ended with the region’s highest vacancy rate since 2010, meaning Seattle’s supply crunch could be starting to alleviate. It also shows some early signs of having some effect on rent, with a larger quarterly decrease in cost than usual.
But, in addition to these numbers still being early, rent is already high. Many renters are still feeling the effects of double-digit increases in recent years and, according to the Cost of Living Index, the sixth-highest cost of living in the country. And with a staggering shortage of condominium units across the state—and not too many in the pipeline—the construction boom is doing little to address the housing market inventory crunch.

Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Snoqualmie Pass Properties, Snoqualmie Pass Homes, Snoqualmie Pass Lots, North Bend Real Estate, Snoqualmie Real Estate, Suncadia Real Estate, http://www.snoqualmiepassliving.com





Snoqualmie Pass Real Estate, Mortgage, and the Economy – Quadrant Planning 63 Homes Near Laurelhurst

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Quadrant planning 63 homes on landmarked 18-acre Laurelhurst site






Quadrant Homes has the landmarked 17.8-acre former Battelle Memorial Institute campus near Laurelhurst under contract to buy, and plans houses there.
The initial plan for the property at 4000 N.E. 41st St., now called the Talaris Conference Center, is for 63 single-family homes. Some of the original nine buildings would be preserved; others would be removed, if the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board allows it.
Quadrant previewed its plan on Wednesday to the board. Its initial team consists of land use attorney Jack McCullough, of McCullough Hill Leary, Robert Hidey Architects of Irvine, California and civil engineer KPFF Consulting Engineers.
CBRE's Tom Pehl, Lou Senini and Dean Johnson are marketing the property on behalf of the owner, an LLC controlled by Bruce and Jolene McCaw. The McCaws paid $15.6 million for the property in 2000 to house their childhood education nonprofit, The Talaris Institute. A few other nonprofits are also still tenants on the campus.
The McCaws sold the institute, but not the land, in 2012. With Triad Associates, they then proposed a plan to raze all the existing buildings for 89 residential lots. That resulted in local groups successfully submitting the campus for landmark designation in 2013. The campus was built between 1965 and 1971, designed by landscape architect Richard Haag and NBBJ's Bill Bain Jr. and David Hoedemaker.
McCullough and Quadrant's Bonnie Geers told the board on Wednesday that, “We know this will be a long process.” They spoke of Quadrant being selected from “a large stack of offers” in part because of their desire to “maintain a single-family approach to portions of this site.”
What portions will be preserved or removed is bound to be contentious. The board meeting was attended by over two dozen representatives from the Friends of Battelle/Talaris and Laurelhurst Community Club. Most public comments were negative, but polite. A resident den of coyotes was mourned.
Board members were not opposed to the residential plan. “This doesn't scare me,” said one member. Though some questioned the number of houses. “In a perfect world, this would be a park,” said another.
The proposed 63 homes would mostly be arrayed around the perimeter of the campus, which is largely surrounded by houses. Individual lots would average about 5,500 square feet.
McCullough cited the example of Fort Lawton as a protected historical mini-district where a “design book” would regulate individual home design. He suggested that a homeowners association could oversee the community buildings that would be preserved.
Regarding Laurelhurst residents' past access to the park-like campus and central pond, until it was fenced in 2013, Geers said, “We don't have a plan for fences.” She emphasized that Bain, now 88, would also consult for Quadrant.
Geers also cited the local roots of Quadrant, which is based in Bellevue but owned by Irvine-based Tri Pointe Homes. Quadrant was previously part of Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Co. until the $2.7 billion merger in 2014 between WRECO and Tri Pointe. The publicly traded Tri Pointe Group has a current market capitalization of about $2.8 billion.


Architect Hidey doesn't list any Northwest projects on its website, though the firm has much experience with master-planned communities and counts Tri Pointe among its past clients.


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