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Bluemont Safeway Looks to Sell Development Rights

by ARLnow.com — May 17, 2012 at 10:24 am 4,765 109 Comments

Safeway is soliciting bids from developers interested in building a residential property on top of a new, proposed Safeway supermarket at 5101 Wilson Boulevard in Bluemont.

According to a document sent to ARLnow.com and first reported on by the Arlington Mercury, Safeway is seeking bids from developers interested in building a new 58,000 to 65,000 square foot Safeway store on the ground floor, with a residential development on top of it. The project would take up the entire block between N. Frederick and Edison Streets, replacing the current, aging Bluemont Safeway and its surface parking lot. Parking — including at least 170 spaces reserved for the Safeway store, would be provided by an underground lot. Safeway is seeking a development that meets a minimum LEED Silver certification.

Last year representatives of the Bluemont Civic Association released sketches of an envisioned “Bluemont Village Center” that included two to three stories of residential development on top of a new Safeway store. Created only as a theoretical planning exercise, it’s unclear whether the civic association’s vision would be adopted by the winning developer.

Real estate firm KLNB is marketing the air rights at 5101 Wilson Boulevard on behalf of Safeway. Bids are due on June 15.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    I’ll be glad to see that poor old Safeway gone and new, bigger and better one replace it. I rarely shop at the current one (though it is within easy walking distance of my home) because it is just plain sad. A new and better Safeway will be a great motivator for me to walk to get my groceries.

    • Thes

      Why not a Wegmans?!

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Shoot yes, I’d be very happy with a Wegmans.

      • Ivy

        I was thinking the exact same thing. I wish Safeway would just go away and build a Wegmans there. I dont’ think Arlington will ever get a Wegmans. Shoot, they can’t even get a Wegman’s in Falls Church or Vienna!

      • http://betterthan22205.com John

        Why no Wegman’s, b/c you live in Bluemont…

        or was your question rhetorical?

      • John Fontain

        Because the property is owned by Safeway?

  • http://nationleprechaun.com/ jinushaun

    FINALLY!! That Safeway is a blight in that area. The produce is always rotten.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      That’s the truth! Be wary of dairy products as well, the managers/personnel keep out dairy items past the expiration date.

      • Ballston

        They also don’t employ sanitary practices in the deli. They cut meats and cheeses on the same slicer, you can see that they rarely wipe off their slicers, and apparently no one ever trained the workers how to cut meat without making a pile of pieces rather than actual slices.

        • drax

          Sliced meat is better in a pile.

        • david

          That’s because the other slicer is broken and they haven’t tried to replace it. As for the pile or slices that depends and if u want thicker slices or shaved meat.

    • Richard Cranium

      What? This Historic Safeway is being torn down? The Eeeeevil Developers must be stopped from destroying Arlington landmarks such as this Safeway (and, apparently, some of the dairy and produce therein).

      • Corey

        haha

    • Arlington, Northside

      Upper Georgetown has the Social Safeway, we have the Socialist Safeway.

      • Juanita de Talmas

        17th Street has the Soviet Safeway and Rosslyn has the Ghetto Safeway.

        • Arlington, Northside

          I actually love the fast service at the Rosslyn Safeway. Wish the Bluemont Safeway could get their management.

  • dcbrewer

    Awesome! I shop there all the time, but only because it is across the street from my house, and only for basics. A new store with a bakery and butcher counter would be great!

    • Bluemontsince1961

      Amen, dcebrewer!

  • Theakston

    There goes Pupatella’s parking lot…it had to go though

    • JamesE

      that was my first thought:(

  • John

    Hopefully it will have a 24 Starbucks like the Georgetown Safeway.

    • John

      That should say 24-hour Starbucks

      • drax

        No, I think it should have 24 Starbucks inside.

      • CourtesyClerk

        It should also say “Glover Park”.

        • Arlington, Northside

          It is pretty much on the line between Upper Georgetown and Glover Park, can go either way.

      • Anne

        +1

    • Dude Where’s My Car

      JACK BAUER: “Dammit, Chloe, I need to know which barista is the terrorist! There’s a truckload of Pumpkin Spice on its way to Washington, DC!”

      [CUT TO: digital clock counting to midnight]

      • JohnM

        I know it’s dated…but that’s funny :-)

      • Tony Almeda

        Have you ever stopped to count how many times Jack Bauer says “dammit” in a single episode? It’s quite impressive, and you could probably make a power hour drinking game out of it.

  • Sal

    FYI– that sketch was merely Bluemont’s concept for discussion and does not come from Safeway or any developer!

    • drax

      You mean like “Created only as a theoretical planning exercise”?

  • Dot

    I’m so happy!

  • http://www.michaels.com Mitch Michaelson

    Looks like a smart plan to me. That area is pretty unappealing and due to the park and single family homes there, it will likely keep denser forms of development limited to that particular area. Not sure why anyone would oppose this – unless Pupatella get’s kicked out….

    • Ballstonienne

      I think some people might oppose going above the current zoned height restriction, but that is about all.

    • drax

      Some people right in that area will oppose this. Trust me. People will freak out about the height, traffic, etc. and just plain change.

      • AB

        I am from that area, and am for it. It seems like a lot of area people are for it too.

        • drax

          I think most people are for it. Just saying you’ll hear from the opposition, loudly.

          • Arlington, Northside

            I lean for it, but an concerned with the added traffic. It is already faster to take Washington Blvd than Wilson in the morning, even with Wilson’s extra lane. But please don’t tell anyone.

          • drax

            People probably complained about the added traffic when your house was built too. That’s life.

    • JamesE

      This plan should include 40 private parking spaces for pupa

      • drax

        Pupa might move into the new building.

        • nom de guerre

          Might. Might not. When was the last time a very small local business was able to move and/or open in a new development? Your move has to result in the addition of at least 75 new jobs to Arlington.

          • drax

            But they will be new jobs. Everyone who works at Pupa now will go to the new location, and work in those new jobs. Look at the “new” jobs! I learned it on ArlNow.

          • Quoth the Raven

            Maybe they can buy out the butcher next door and just make their existing space bigger. As in, maybe get some tables!

          • Henry Spencer

            Does the Ballston Super Pollo count?

      • AgentZero

        I think I just took a pupa.

  • G Clifford Prout (now moderated for extra purity)

    With all these new Village Centers, Town Centers, Center Centers popping up, where exactly is the center of Arlington.

    • Quoth the Raven

      I think it’s near Donaldson Run.

    • nom de guerre

      The “culinary center” of Arlington is Sam’s Corner. Today’s special is is featuring a half pound ground lamb burger with garlic and mint on a toasted everything bagel with baby spinach, red onions and tzatziki sauce. Trevor Frye’s are $1 extra. The bagel is in tribute to karzai’s dream of opening a bagel joint in Clarendon. Only while supplies last.

      • JamesE

        I just tried it, quite excellent. However it was the last one and they are now closed. I went sans Trevor.

    • Dude Where’s My Car
  • Sal

    ALSO: re expiration dates — we call it the Unsafeway.

    • Parkington

      No sir, that is in DC. Arlington does not get Safeway nicknames.

  • Barry

    Hey pro-Tysonization bozos, we already have enough traffic in the neighborhood.

    • Corey

      This has got to be a troll.

    • CW

      Actually, since most people in “the neighborhood” despise that Safeway and thus would drive to Seven Corners, this would reduce the amount of THROUGH traffic, i.e. people speeding badly on Wilson, which would be a good thing.

      • AB

        Get with the times Barry.

      • Parkington

        If they were speeding badly that would mean they are doing a poor job of speeding.

    • drax

      See? Told you there would be people freakin’ out.

  • Bluemonter

    Awesome! Finally! The Safeway is horrible, they sell expired food and it looks and feels really really old. I thought they where going to develop the Safeway along with the adjacent strip mall next the McDonalds. There was also a plan to buy some of the houses behind the parking lot and turn them into a town home commmunity.

    I think this is a very smart approach to a Safeway, that left unattended will just close up shop. I live very close to this Safeway but I go to the newer Safeway next to Target in Fairfax County. I don’t want to spend my money in Faifax but the Safeway option in Bluemont is not really an option.

    • Arlington, Northside

      I am concerned that this Safeway will continue to have slow service like the rebuilt one by Target in Wilston Center. You hav much better product there, but they seem to have only one person maning the check out no matter how crowded.

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Agree, Northside. The Safeway in Wilston is s-l-o-w at the checkouts. I’ve seen either one lane or one regular lane and one express, just like the Bluemont Safeway. Wilston is much better as a store and much, much better in its product stock, but service there stinks. I still do most of my grocery shopping at Giant, Harris Teeter, and sometimes Trader Joe’s.

        • Dom Hills

          Hey, since you’ve been here since JFK–what was it like back in the day? Was it a Safeway? If not, what was there then? Thanks for any historical info!

          • Bluemontsince1961

            Dom Hills, it was a Safeway back in 1961 when my family moved to the Bluemont section from Ashton Heights. It was always a smaller than average Safeway, but back when I was a kid, it was in much better condition, had much better stock (fresh produce, no expired dairy products, a decent if small deli), and every register was manned no matter what time of day. Back then, if a cashier went on break, the manager would take over the registers or even bag groceries if that was what it took to keep things moving. Back then, that Safeway gave a darn about its neighborhood customers.

          • Dom Hills

            Interesting! Thanks, Bluemontsince1961. I’d never have guessed it was here that long.

          • Arlington, Northside

            To be fair, they were also only open 8am-6pm Mon-Sat.

      • John Fontain

        Regarding lack of checkers: high union wages = lower staffing numbers.

  • BluemontFred

    I live just across the street and hate this dump of a store. The freezers are so bad that you can nver find ice crem that isn’t incased in ice. Not to mention that you go in at 5 p.m. and there is one register open. McDonalds will be torn down this summer and rebuilt. It was supposed to happen in April, but they postponed it.

    • drax

      BLUEMONTFREDTERP

    • Bluemontsince1961

      BluemontFred, you said it. Along with their bad deli, expired dairy products, and old produce, that place just doesn’t work. I do grit my teeth if I have to go there for a few basics once in a while, but only for beer, wine, canned goods, or boxed items. And yes, if they have more than one register (usually the “express”) it is a shocker.

    • DarkHeart

      What’s wrong with the existing McDonald’s (other than its propensity to induce heart trauma)?

      • Arlington, Northside

        Poor layout and ageing systems. Cheaper to just knock down and build anew then to rehab it.

    • Freezerman

      I’ve been there and watched the forzen stuff slowly thaw in the freezer aisles, unattended. No stockpeople were visible. I won’t buy anything frozen from that store.

  • Dom Hills

    Sounds like there’s near unanimity on the inferiority of that Safeway and the desirability of its replacement.

    I do wonder how this will affect the folks who live right behind it. How tall is this gonna be again? Of course, having a tall building there would also block noise coming from Wilson, so it could make things quieter for them. But having people’s windows right there looking down at your house could be kind of creepy.

    I too fear this will kill Pupatella and maybe Layalina as well. Hope not.

    • Bluemontsince1961

      It seems the plan would be a building three stories tall, Dom Hills. Maybe Putatella, Layalina, and the other restaurants would be able to move into the new space?

      • Dom Hills

        Yeah, that’d be nice–although I’m sure they’d be paying more in rent. Unless Safeway will cut them a deal. Could be a win-win.

        • Bluemontsince1961

          Let’s hope they work something out. I like the idea of integrating that block into a combined new Safeway with a couple of the restaurants/stores in the immediate area.

      • Suzanne Smith Sundburg

        Looking at the Safeway/KLNB RFP document (http://www.klnb.com/Email_Fliers/images/5101_Wilson/5101_Wilson.pdf), I first thought that the proposed building would be either 35 or 45 feet high based on the narrative. But then I looked more carefully. When you enlarge the cross-section portion of the architectural drawing (colored in red) marked Option 2-A, you’ll see that a 5-story building with a height of 72 feet is what is actually being proposed. Moreover, Safeway is asking for a LEED-certified building, and the county often grants “bonus density” for LEED buildings. So add another story on top of that.

        Most redeveloped space in Arlington is very expensive–too expensive for small, local businesses like Pupatella or Layalina. An example would be the new retail space at 950 N. Glebe Road, which sat empty for several years even though it is a short walk to Metro. At long last, George Mason U. has leased some of it for classrooms.

  • http://Beth Beth

    This whole extended neighborhood is going to look alot different in the next decade. There is alot of new single family housing (tear down and then rebuild) by developers. The houses are selling for $900,000 plus. Maube they should put a MOMs or something similar in that location instead.

    • Dom Hills

      Huh? Oh, right–because wealthy people only like organic food. That’s why there’s a MOM’s in Arlandria and a Safeway and H-T in Yorktown.

  • chris

    As long as Balston development dosn’t start to creep down Wilison Blvd…..

    • ArlingtonWay

      Already happening It will grow until it eventually meets up with the proposed expanded East Falls Church Metro faketown and whatever they will eventually build at theEdenCenter.

    • Suzanne Smith Sundburg

      Actually, Chris, I think that’s precisely the plan. At a recent County Board budget work session, the head of the Economic Development Office stated that the Ballston Business Improvement District (BID) wanted to expand its boundaries westward. That would include Bluemont and the corridor along Wilson Blvd.

  • http://Beth Beth

    The Yorktown folks lack options. That’s why the Harrison Center is always packed. They have to travel to other areas of Arlington or Fairfax for anything other than a casual resturant (especially if they don’t want one w/ a thousand kids in it). No reason that other people need to be similarly deprived.

    • Arlington, Northside

      The Safeway on Harrison has the best service of the ones in Arlington/Falls Church, but they can’t compete with the selection or quality of H-T. Although the service at the one in downtown McLean is good too, and has the best selection of any of the ones in the area, but it is too dark.

      Safeway has fallen far from the standard they set in the ’70s

      • Debs

        The Safeway at Harrison/Lee is the best. I will not shop in the HT anymore. Way more expensive than Safeway. If I want Organic I will go to Whole Foods.

  • TY

    “That area is pretty unappealing…” So replace the Safeway with a larger new Safeway, fix the streetscape, plant flowers, prune street trees, and so on. Demand responsive County Government. A Bluemont activist constantly rails at the County Board, meeting after meeting, about the County’s neglect of Bluemont. So fix the problems, already.

  • ArlingtonWay

    I am fully aware of that Safeway’s shortcomings. But i like it. I dread the Safeway up by Target. It is the slowest checkout I have ever experienced. And the self checkputs never work (unexpected item in the bagging area!) And parking for anything at the Lee Harrison shopping center is a nightmare. Do they have to turn every single place in Arlington into one of these god-awful fake town center things? They are simply horrible.

    • Southeast Jerome

      there are lots of places in arlington that arent fake town center things.

  • Henry Spencer

    Hopefully, the ventilation will be improved so it doesn’t smell like old grease. I’m about equidistant from this one and 7 Corners, but go to the one on Wilson if I need something quick that I’m pretty confident they’ll have. If the parking isn’t easy in and out, I’ll probably go to 7C instead.

  • Alex

    Love it, love it, love it! I live just a couple blocks up from that Safeway-that-time-forgot. I can’t wait for them to redevelop it into something bigger and more attractive. It’s time to face reality – we live in a high density population zone now in Arlington. We’re really part of the “city” rather than the “suburbs”.

    For those who are bent out of shape about it, just remember, be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it (i.e.,”progress” — if you can expropriate Native American land and destroy their opinion of what is a sensible, idyllic lifestyle, all in the name of progress, don’t be surprised when it comes around and bites you in your own butt)

    • ArlingtonWay

      They are building a new Safeway and fake town center because of what happened to the indians? Makes perfect sense.

      • Southeast Jerome

        what makes it a real town center versus a fake town center?

    • drax

      So you live in a hut made of animal skins, Alex?

  • John Fontain

    I thought the Safeway on 29 in Cherrydale was the only store that carried expired items. Hmmm, I learn something new everyday.

    • Southeast Jerome

      so many parallels to the safeway on wilson and the safeway in cherrydale.

      both have terrible service and nasty produce. but they are solid for beer/wine and some boxed items that dont go bad.

      • JamesE

        They built a deluxe “gourmet” safeway right across from my office in McLean, it is actually pretty nice.

  • Liam

    Awesome, I can’t wait until the new store is built. I will take some apartments on top if it means getting a new store and some more small businesses and restaurants in the area. That Safeway is horrible. I’m tired of buying produce or bread, taking it home, only to find out it’s expired. I was really worried Safeway would just close the store and sell the land and we would lose a neighborhood grocery, so I’m glad to see we will eventually have a new store there.

  • Pete

    I absolutely blame County Government for the state of Bluemont. A Bluemont activist has attended County Board meeting after County Board meeting for years to complain. If the neighborhood is blighted it’s because County Government has allowed Bluemont to become blighted.

    If Safeway no longer wants to renovate and upgrade older supermarkets Safeway should sell its older supermarkets to another grocery chain or entrepreneur that will. I am really tired of County Government’s 2-step program – allow suburban neighborhoods to deteriorate then point to deteriorated neighborhoods and say they require massive urbanization.

    • drax

      How about some details to support this accusation?

      The last big idea Safeway had was to put a huge gas station in its underused parking lot. That idea, which the neighborhood rightly protested, wasn’t the Board’s idea. The Board doesn’t dictate how land is used, only approve some proposals. Land owners have to step up to the plate first.

  • Arlingtron

    This store is like a time capsule from 1964. From the decor, patrons, staff, and merchandise it’s like stepping back nearly five decades when you pass through the doors. It will be sad to lose this window in time but hopefully the new place will not be such a dump.

  • TJ

    Good thing Ashlawn was one of the schools slated for expansion.

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