New Safeway at 3830 Georgia Ave, NW, Will Be a Long Time Coming … But Worth the Wait
Representatives of Duball LLC, the developers of the new Safeway & residences slated to replace the store at 3830 Georgia Avenue (Randolph & Georgia, NW), were at the ANC 4C meeting last night to talk about their project. The one thing that came across loud and clear in the presentation is that the project would take 2 1/2 to 3 years to complete (optimistically), and that there will be a time during construction where there will be no grocery service at all. They do hope to find a temporary location to house the pharmacy so that prescriptions can continue to be filled locally, but at this early stage of the project the location has not been selected.
The project breaks down thusly: the new Planned Unit Development (PUD) will be submitted in early March and take 6-9 months for approval. This will be followed by a period of 6-9 months to obtain permits and create construction documents. After these have been created, there will be an additional 18 months for construction — the final 6 months of which will be within the finished shell.
The developers will not be finishing the interior of the Safeway, that will be done by the grocery chain itself. This means that the developer will be finishing the living space above at the same time. Currently, they envision that these units will be rentable studio, 1- and 2-bedroom units. The presenters were very direct that the units will be market rate with the exception of the 8% affordable housing required by the city. They further stated that there was enough affordable housing in the immediate area. This may have been a reference to nearby 4100 Georgia Avenue which contains the Yes! organic market. That project was built at a 100% affordable housing capacity.
While the project is a PUD, it is unlikely that there will be any real community amenities to come out of the project. When pressed to list amenities, most of what was listed seemed to comply with current city requirements. In response to questions posed about pressing Safeway for more, the presenters stated that the project was very tight financially and part of what made the project practical to Safeway was the money the grocers received for the right to build on top of the store and the tax credits they will receive.
The store will end up being the second largest in Washington — similar in design to the City Vista store — with about 60,000 sq. ft. that contains a full deli and a Starbucks. Learning lessons from earlier Safeways, there will only be 86 parking spaces for shoppers rather than the 200-300 spaces other stores have. What Safeway has learned in the urban environment is that most Washingtonians walk or take Metro to shop, and shop more frequently, than people who live in the suburbs do.
Overall, it looks like a good, clean project that will greatly enhance the community. When completed and reopened, it will not only provide more choices for area shoppers, but increase the number of its employees from 40-50 to 150-160.Development comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.