Safeway Plans Major Redevelopment

Fresh off the opening of its new Georgetown store, Safeway is planning another major development right next door. They are planning on building a new building (seen above) on the small plot of land just south of the Safeway (between Jelleff and Wisconsin) that was a parking lot but is now just grass. In addition they plan to “re-skin” part of the next building down, which contains the Einstein Brothers’ Bagels and a pawn shop.

It was news to GM that Safeway even owned this land. There is no word on what will occupy the space, but it doesn’t appear that it would be a branch of the Safeway. It also seems unlikely that the old tenants would stick around seeing as the design looks a tad too expensive for a bagel shop or a pawn shop:

GM has a couple concerns with this project. The first is aesthetic. These are rather bland buildings that seem more appropriate for Friendship Heights than Georgetown. The whole sandstone look just isn’t reflective of anything else in Georgetown.

Second, Safeway didn’t exactly wow with the tenants they found for the Safeway building itself. They got a cell phone store, a pet store, and a nail salon. They promised not to bring a bank and they kept to the letter of the promise, but perhaps not the spirit.

GM is not sure what to expect in these buildings. The larger one looks like it could house a clothing store, however it’s not a particularly good place for a clothing store. The smaller one looks ominously like a CVS, but GM is hopeful that Safeway wouldn’t locate a competitor to their own pharmacy so close.

Finally, GM is a little dismayed that they are planning on building so much parking. Not only are they are keeping the lot next to Einstein’s, which really breaks up the street facade, but they are planning another lot behind the new building as large as the building itself. This is suburban-style parking and we should be getting away from this in Georgetown, not building more of it.

Regardless, it must really be said that Safeway sure likes to build stuff, in Georgetown no less…

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Safeway Plans Major Redevelopment

  1. Ken Archer

    This looks like cookie-cutter architecture from nowhere sprawland. And it’s nice to have the Safeway front parking lot gone, but I thought they said they would sell fruits and vegetables out front. What happened to that?

    I’m concerned that, rather than the friendly, progressive neighbor they pretended to be, all they are doing is killing the Saturday farmer’s market across the street while building suburbia on their ground level and now next door.

  2. Actually I wish that the new Safeway sold bedding and patio plants, like the old one used to. Now the closest location to pick those things up is Johnson’s up in Cleveland Park/Cathedral Heights.

  3. Andy

    So perhaps Safeway should identify a good garden store and build a building that would blend in, add green space and fill a void in the commercial neighborhood.

  4. EastGeorgetowner

    I agree that the architecture for the “reskinned” buildings is all wrong. The similar style is OK, I guess, for the main Safeway building, given its size, purpose, and what it replaced. But for these other buildings which are much smaller we should have something much more appropriate to Georgetown. GM suggests this looks more suitable to Friendship Heights – to me it’s worse, it looks like the generic/new construction style in overly developed new Bethesda — yuk. It is not more expensive to give the buildings a quasi-neo classical or more historic look; I hope that Safeway considers that or, if not, that the ANC and local zoning authorities oppose this design. I do think the idea of improving the space is good, to me it is just a question of the aesthetics of the design look they seem to be pursuing.

    And, I think the idea of a garden store is a great idea and would attract alot of local customers.

  5. Ben

    The new Georgetown Safeway is a great store, a real improvement for the neighborhood. That said, however, any redevelopment proposal for the parcel where Einstein’s and the pawn shop are that does not eliminate the surface parking and that does not add retail is a significant missed opportunity. When the surface parking at both the north and south end of the parcel are included, this strip is rather large. I would like to see ground floor retail with 2-3 floors of housing built upon this. This building is right on Wisconsin Avenue and would not encroach on existing neighbors.

  6. Ben

    You’re exactly right– the sandstone looks like you’d see in Newport Beach or South Florida, not Georgetown.

    The renderings of Wisconsin Avenue also need to include a streetcar in them! If you support improved mobility for this corridor and sustainable transportation that will connect to the rest of the District, come to the ANC 2E meeting tomorrow night, as the commissioners will discuss the K Street streetcar proposal and the proposal for a Wisconsin Ave route.

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  8. Andrew

    The folks in charge of Safeway for this region need to grasp the new reality of urbanism and sustainability. I know they are not interested in getting into the housing business, but between this and the proposals in Tenleytown, they are really missing good opportunities to help provided needed housing within the city, built in customers for their stores and more vibrancy for the neighborhoods they are serving.

    The basis for this proposal is fine, but they need to be bold, improve the design and consider options already mentioned here.

  9. Charlie Eason

    This latest proposal is on the ANC agenda for discussion on Tuesday, June 1st. There have been great comments in this thread, and I hope those folks will be there to participate in the discussion.

    I personally have been enjoying the green space between the grocery store and the retail to the south and wish Safeway would consider keeping that as a “gateway” to the Jelleff Community Center (or whatever they will be calling it).

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