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COVID-19 alert: City conducts a 'virtual building inspection' to allow Starbucks and bank to open

Bothell, Wash., issues a certificate of occupancy to developer after inspecting the property online. 

April 13, 2020 |
Starbucks in Bothell, Wash., gets CO through a virtual building inspection

This Starbucks and an adjacent bank in Bothell, Wash., were opened thanks to a virtual building inspection by the city. The coffeeshop's drive-thru has stayed open through the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Seattle bedroom community of Bothell, Wash., lies in one of the metro areas first hit by the COVID-19 crisis. There, a developer worked with the city to complete a virtual inspection, allowing the Starbucks-anchored development to open while the city was in the midst of the pandemic. The coffeeshop remains open via drive thru. 

The new Starbucks drive-thru in Bothell, at 22904 Bothell Everett Highway, was all prepped to open on March 27. But before the property owner, Avalon Development, could hand over the keys to the new 3,990-sf building to co-tenants Starbucks and Washington Federal bank, Avalon had to complete a final building safety inspection with a city government that was in the midst of temporarily shutting down all non-emergency services, including all in-person inspections.

“We were scrambling to get the Starbucks drive-thru open,” said Avalon Development Principal Scott Whittington. “We needed to get our final inspection, but the city and the state were in the midst of shutting down. Luckily, we have a great relationship with the city, and working with DB General Contractors and the local Starbucks real estate management team, we came up with a solution."

The solution: an on-site inspection via FaceTime, with the inspector on live video feed to confirm that the construction met all safety standards.  As a result of the virtual inspection, Avalon Development was issued the certificate of occupancy, allowing the businesses to open.

Thanks to the work-around, the opening of this all-new Starbucks drive-thru was only delayed by two days. “This is a testament of continued perseverance and dedication to craft that is awe-inspiring during this time of continued bad news,” said Garrett Johnson, Vice President at Avalon Development.

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