Colorado residents join those in other states in what’s turned into a long wait for Amazon Fresh grocery stores.
In 2021, BusinessDen reported that Seattle-based Amazon had leased space locally for two Amazon Fresh stores — one in southeast Denver, the other in Centennial.
Two years later, however, neither has opened. And Amazon isn’t talking.
“We do not comment on our future roadmap,” said Jessica Martin, an Amazon spokeswoman.
Amazon opened its first Fresh store in August 2020. According to the company’s website, there are now 44 locations in eight states and Washington, D.C. The stores are advertised as high-tech, with customers able to avoid check-out lines and simply walk out of the store while being charged through their Amazon account.
Denver isn’t the only market awaiting openings. The Real Deal reported that seven Amazon Fresh locations across the country have yet to begin operations, despite appearing completely built out. Progress on 26 other locations remains unclear.
Amazon Fresh is not the company’s first attempt at brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon began opening book and toy stores across the nation in 2015, only to announce in March 2022 that all 68 stores would close so the company could focus on Amazon Fresh.
One area property that Amazon leased is the former Safeway building at 4950 E. Hampden Ave., within the Happy Canyon Shopping Center in southeast Denver.
The building’s exterior has changed since BusinessDen photographed it in June 2021. The outside resembles Amazon Fresh stores in other markets, with white panels and gray siding, and a bright green border above the front doors. But no signage has been installed.
The building remains fenced off, making it difficult to see inside. Employees at neighboring Devon’s Pub said they haven’t seen construction crews working inside in over a year.
The property’s owner, Buzz Calkins of Bellray Holdings, didn’t respond to a messages left on his phone. Before Amazon leased the building, deals fell through to open first Tony’s Meats and Market and then Marczyk Fine Foods at the property.
The second spot that Amazon is known to have leased locally is 8181 S. Quebec St., in the Quebec Village Retail Center in Centennial.
The 43,000-square-foot building, formerly home to Hobby Lobby and Stein Mart, looks the same on the outside as it did two years ago, with brown siding where company signs hang and traditional brick pillars. The inside remains vast and empty — no shelfs or check-out lines.
A crew with Epic Construction was inside the building one day last week, but a worker said they were building a wall for new tenants next door, and didn’t know of a contract to build out the store itself.
The Centennial property is owned by Illinois-based Kensington Development Partners, which purchased the property in 2021 for $21 million. The company, which didn’t respond, expects to spend an additional $6.5 million in renovations and improvements, according to information presented to the Centennial City Council.
The councilors unanimously voted last year to reimburse $250,000 worth of sales tax at the store to Amazon over a 10-year period. The company, which does not have a similar arrangement with the city of Denver, estimated the store would have $30 million in annual sales, which would generate $150,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the city, according to information presented to council.
The incentive requires Amazon to open the store by March 31, 2025.