Safeway Moving Forward With New Development

Yesterday a reader alerted GM to the fact that Einstein’s Bagels closed down. GM was expecting this, but not that soon. The building it occupied is owned by Safeway and they plan to tear it down and build a new own (plus another smaller building on the green space between this building and Safeway).

GM went over the initial plans last year. They were pretty tacky and completely out of place in Georgetown. Safeway changed architects and came back with revised designs. The ANC saw that they were on the right course and left the final call to the OGB. Since GM doesn’t attend OGB meetings (they’re during the work day) he didn’t notice that the plans were approved in February.

The pawn shop moved out (and basically across the street) shortly thereafter and now Einstein’s is gone. GM can’t say Einstein’s was his favorite bagel shop. The bagels were ok, and the coffee decent (and incredibly hot for some reason), but the service was incredibly slow. If there was a line of more than two to three people when you walked in, you expected at least a ten minute delay. Nonetheless, it was a relatively cheap option for take-out breakfast, which there’s not much of in north Georgetown.

To be honest, GM is pretty worried about these buildings. First of all, they’re going to be expensive to rent, so it’s unlikely a neighborhood serving store like Einstein’s or the pawn shop will move in.  Second, CVS has not shown a lot of willingness to entice interesting tenants. They promised that they wouldn’t put a bank in the space below the new supermarket, and they didn’t. But they put in a Petco, a nail salon, and a cell phone store. Not very interesting. GM fears that with at least one building, nothing but a bank will be willing to pay the rent.

And that’s not even getting into the question of whether they’re building too much parking (they are) or creating a hazardous pedestrian environment with their curb cuts (they will). Oh well, we’ll see.

RIP Einstein’s

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12 Comments

Filed under Development

12 responses to “Safeway Moving Forward With New Development

  1. RNM

    I know it is a throwaway comment…but um, yes parking makes people more motivated to go to places. So putting in parking makes it more likely for any business in there to survive…besides the Petco was a great addition as we can now buy our cat food there when we get our groceries as opposed to going to Potomac Yard.

    Ultimately, it is a difficult business environment and like it or not the face of that area is changing. No loss with the closing of Einsteins bagels…not that the rubbish they made should be called a bagel. Since GM hates cars and the people who drive them…it should make you happy to know you can bike up to the Bethesda location by following the Capital Crescent trail…plus the ride will up the hill will help you work off a delicious Miami Burger there…as far as I know they are the only place in the DC area making a real bagel.

  2. RNM

    I will add while the type of stores that they brought in and might bring in to an expanded building might not appeal to the GM, they do represent the type of businesses that people actually frequent in the course of day to day, week to week life. We shop at grocery stores, we need supplies for our pets, we all use cell phones (half of the internet traffic in a few years will not be on PCs), my other half gets her nails done every week or two (and had tried to get me to go too, no luck yet). So these businesses create a cluster where the day to day real life activities can be accomplished. Though the nail salon across the street is far better, if it is good enough for the President and his family…it is good enough for my family.

  3. Anonymous, please: "Nemo"

    Would someone in authority please ask Safeway to set their proposed building back from the street so a bus turn-in can be built on the site? That way Metrobuses and Connectors could pull OUT of traffic to load and unload passengers. This would help ease congestion at a major choke-point along the croweded stretch between R and Whitehaven Streets, N.W. A tax break for Safeway might sweeten the deal. While they’re at it, DDOT traffic engineers should study a signal to control traffic at the Hardy parking lot and the lower level entrance to the Safeway garage.

  4. andy

    I’d favor the parking if it resulted in one less curb cut. Could they not just use the light metered Safeway driveway?

    Also in the fourth graph I think you meant Safeway not CVS.

  5. Ben

    Good post, but one correction. “Second, CVS has not shown a lot of willingness to entice interesting tenants. They promised that they wouldn’t put a bank in the space below the new supermarket, and they didn’t.” I think you mean Safeway.

    While investment and construction and the jobs it will create are certainly welcomed now, as I posted yesterday, this is a significant missed opportunity for the Wisconsin Avenue corridor. I realize that Safeway isn’t in the real estate development business but this would be a great location for a mixed use-development. The grass lot, combined with the surface parking lot and the now-vacant stores would provide a significant amount of land for a quality mixed-use project. There is also another surface parking lot on the south end of this block that could be combined with any development. Safeway or another developer could have the entire block to work with in building any new development.

    Safeway is planning a mixed-use store with residential units above it in Tenley (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/safeway-plots-mixed-use-development-in-tenleytown/2011/05/09/AFJeKK4G_story.html ). Instead, here in Georgetown, with some of the most desirable and most expensive housing in the DC region, Safeway is planning to build a one-story suburban style strip mall. While certainly not as transit-accessible as Dupont or Clarendon, this section of Wisconsin Avenue is served by the Circulator, 30s buses, and the D2 is a short walk away. Finally, a development with ground floor retail and 3-4 floors of housing above it would further enliven this section of Wisconsin Avenue. With the offices, school, cemetery, and Holiday Inn all close by, this should have been an opportunity we’d welcome.

  6. Carol Joynt

    You had to go to Potomac Yard for cat food? I don’t have a cat but I believe there are closer options. For example, The Dog Shop on Wisconsin. The name aside, they have cat supplies.

  7. jmw

    How about a Gtown Bagelry location in the old Furins space? I hate to see Furins close but that would soften the blow a bit. It is indeed sad that Gtown doesn’t even have a half decent, or even a poor, bagel place any more; or a deli, etc …

  8. Jacques

    I second that idea, @jmw!

  9. Ward 4 Prisoner

    Hey, be happy you are not getting a Wal-Mart in your neighborhood. I would love a Safeway Strip Mall over a Wal-Mart, Marshalls and TJ Maxx. That aside I think it would be great to have some low level mixed use retail in the area. You could put in a four unit building with condos or apartments or make it half and half and sprinkle in a nice little food place like a sandwich shop, neighborhood coffee shop (even though there are 10 starbucks in the area, lol) or even an all purpose store like a cleaners/shoe store or something like that. But this would take long term planning and for sight and in a city that chose to put Gray in as Mayor to help move us backwards this just isn’t happening.

  10. RNM

    I think Ms. Joynt you have hit on the issue. Some of us shop for our cat supplies in the real world not in boutique shops that generally charge more and offer less of a selection. We also do half of our grocery shopping at a Harris Teeter in the Pentagon Row complex, where we can also work out at Ballys (far less expensive than the overpriced and self inflated places around Georgetown…we checked). We are able to buy household wares out there at places like Bed Bat & Beyond (though maybe if they get a Target in Georgetown park we will try that), not to mention electronics out at Potomac Yard where Best Buy is located. Before the movie theater development we used to go out to Potomac Yard to see first run movies too. Frankly your response read a bit like “let them eat cake”…maybe a basic course in finances would be of help.

  11. Charmed

    On the bagel issue, Brooklyn Bagels in Clarendon is very tasty . . . and efficient! I’ve seen them process a long line of hungover post-collegiates in no time at all. They would be a terrific replacement for Einstein’s.

  12. Pingback: DC Metrocentric » Linked: Construction/Destruction

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