Rendering of the new Safeway entrance at La Playa and Fulton
At Wednesday night’s general meeting of the Planning Association for the Richmond (PAR), Safeway Real Estate Manager Natalie Mattei was in attendance to provide updates on the remodel project for the Safeway store located at Fulton and La Playa near Ocean Beach.
The planned remodel, which will expand the store’s footprint from its current 40,000 square feet to nearly 59,000, has been underway for several years. The project is currently in its environmental review phase, and expects to be in front of the Planning Commission for final approval by the end of 2014.
In addition to a completely new store, the remodel will also include 40-45 residential units on the north end of the property along Cabrillo and La Playa.
STORE MAY CLOSE DURING RECONSTRUCTION
Mattei says the original plan was to keep the store open during construction, however the new design may make that more difficult than originally anticipated. The new design includes an underground loading dock, which during construction would require that the store entrance and temporary loading dock be one and the same, posing potential safety issues.
If Safeway closes the store during construction, the store could open sooner than anticipated by speeding up construction by 6-7 months. With a store shutdown, construction would last about 15 months.
If the store were to close, the closest supermarkets for outer Richmond residents would be Fresh & Easy on 32nd and Clement, Grocery Outlet on 28th and Geary, and Safeway at 7th Avenue and Cabrillo. Mattei said they are still debating whether to close the store during the remodel and have not reached a decision.
STUDY REVEALS HIGH RATE OF PARKING “POACHING”
Part of the environmental phase of the project includes a traffic study. Mattei says cameras were placed around the current parking lots to measure “poaching”, or when non-shoppers take up parking lot spaces. Results showed that on the weekends, 30-40% of the 215 parking spaces were taken by poachers which could be beach-goers, residents, or visitors to nearby homes or Golden Gate Park.
As a result, Mattei says they are considering a gate setup where shoppers would take a parking card on entry which they could validate in store for free exit. Safeway would provide up to 2 hours of free parking to customers. In the new design, there will be a two level parking structure with space for 200 cars.
As has been the plan since the beginning, Safeway will sell off some of the square block that they own for the development of residential units, mainly along the north end on Cabrillo and La Playa.
Right now Mattei estimates that 40 to 45 units will be built and include studios (450 sq. ft), 1 bedrooms (680 sq. ft.) or 2 bedrooms (850 sq. ft.). Some units will have balconies and parking.
Safeway does not develop residential real estate so they will put out the parcels for bid to developers for the project. Mattei estimates that the residential units will begin construction once the new store is re-opened.
RECYCLING UNIT WILL BE ELIMINATED; POSSIBLE COFFEE AND BANK SUBTENANTS
Mattei said the current recycling unit will be removed from the new Safeway, due to limitations in the design that will not accommodate the type of truck that is used for pickup. She also said that a coffee and a banking subtenant are likely to be part of the new store.
Currently Safeway partners with Starbucks and US Bank or Wells Fargo, but says partnership deals change periodically. So by the time the store is slated to open in 2017, they may be different companies.
CHANGES TO MUNI STOPS ON LA PLAYA
Currently there are two Muni stops on La Playa – one at the corner of Fulton, and another at the corner of La Playa and Cabrillo. The latter stop overlaps with a parking lot entrance to the new residential units, so project planners are likely to ask the SFMTA to reduce the Muni stops to just one on La Playa, in front of the store’s main entrance at Fulton.
STORE COULD REOPEN IN 2017
Mattei expects the project to be in front of the SF Planning Commission by the end of 2014 for review and hopefully a speedy approval. Assuming that goes well, the project would go out for bid and permit applications would be filed, which would take another 12 months. At the earliest, construction would begin in 2016, slating the re-opening for sometime in 2017.
Rendering of the new Safeway from Fulton Street
Plans showing the layout of the new Safeway which includes the store (pink), 200 parking spaces, and residential units (yellow).