An Amazon supermarket in West Boca? Building nearing completion for a grocery store

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Nov 09, 2021 8:56 AM

No checkout lines. Customers being guided by Alexa assistants. It’s all part of Amazon’s vision for its nationwide grocery chain, which is coming to South Florida.

Amazon Fresh, the company’s new supermarket chain, appears to have plans to open its first Florida location in West Boca — with construction nearing completion of a grocery store building at the massive Uptown Boca shopping complex by Glades Road, a short distance east of State Road 7.

Though there has been no official word yet for the grocery store’s completion and opening date, it would serve as the latest addition to a growing number of businesses at the shopping destination.

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, Bonefish Grill, Just Salad, BurgerFi, Chick-fil-A and Sloan’s Ice Cream are among the stores that have opened, one by one, at the $200 million complex, situated across 13 acres. On any given weekend night, the parking lot is full, with customers frequenting the many businesses there.

“Go there on Friday night, people are buzzing,” said Brian Schmier, CEO of Schmier Property Group and the lead developer on the Uptown Boca project. “We needed to build something that had enough critical mass and people wanted to go there. We think we’ve provided a little bit of everything.” And within the community, “it’s been received extremely well.”

Amazon representatives didn’t respond to questions from the Sun Sentinel, and Schmier declined to say whether an Amazon Fresh store was coming, citing a confidentiality agreement. During a recent visit to Uptown Boca, workers in yellow vests and white hard hats were busy with construction work on the supermarket building.

Construction is underway at Uptown Boca for a supermarket in Boca Raton on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.

Construction is underway at Uptown Boca for a supermarket in Boca Raton on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. (Carline Jean / South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Amazon Fresh stores use a tech-first approach in serving customers: The stores rely on a variety of cameras and sensors to track the items that customers take from shelves. As customers leave, the store has kept tabs and knows what to charge customers to their Amazon Prime accounts, eliminating the need for checkout lines, Bloomberg says.

Customers also ask for assistance via specialized-Alexa kiosks throughout the stores.

While Amazon has remained tight-lipped, records submitted to the county describe the project at Uptown Boca as a large-scale supermarket, including notes such as details about providing “cart storage.” The building will encompass 35,000 square feet, according to county records. Uptown Boca’s website similarly notes that an “organic grocery” soon will be part of the complex.

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News outlets such as the Palm Beach Post and the Real Deal have reported on Amazon Fresh’s pending arrival, helping generate buzz locally. Uptown Boca’s social media accounts have been peppered with remarks such as “Waiting patiently for Amazon to open up,” and “When is Amazon Fresh set to open?”

Fresh produce at Amazon Fresh includes digital price signage that can be changed electronically at an Amazon Fresh store on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Illinois.

Fresh produce at Amazon Fresh includes digital price signage that can be changed electronically at an Amazon Fresh store on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Illinois. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

While Amazon is known for its dominance in online retail, it has slowly begun expanding its footprint into physical locations. In September, Amazon launched its first grocery location in California and has since added 11 more locations in California and Illinois. The company has plans to launch over 30 more locations across the country, according to Bloomberg.

Schmier said he looks forward to the Uptown Boca growing even more as a destination in West Boca.

“Since Lazy Dog and Bonefish Grill opened, the traffic through the center has been incredible,” Schmier said.

Staff writer Juan Ortega contributed to this report.

Exterior photo of a new Amazon Fresh store in in Westmont, Illinois, west of Chicago on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

Exterior photo of a new Amazon Fresh store in in Westmont, Illinois, west of Chicago on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)

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