By Carla Branch and Taylor Allen
Safeway began updating its grocery stores in 2004, using the new “lifestyle” concept. Next year, the Safeway store, which is located at the Braddock, King and Quaker intersection near the Bradlee Shopping Center will be torn down and a new, lifestyle store will replace it.
“There are 129 Safeway brand stores in the eastern region and we have already converted 111 of those using our lifestyle concept,” said Craig Muckle, the manager of public affairs and government relations for Safeway’s Eastern Division. “We converted those stores where we could simply move some walls and update interiors first and now, it’s time to do the stores that we have to close for a period of time and completely rebuild.”
The current store has 44,000 square feet of sales space and the new store will have 61,000 square feet of store space. Alexandrian Lee Quill, a partner with the DC-based firm of Cunningham-Quill, is working with Safeway to design the new store.
“We are going to give the new store a very modern, urban look. The entrance on King Street will have a very urban feel with a wall along the property line and a wide sidewalk between the store and the street,” Quill said. “There will be another entrance on Braddock Road that will have trees, natural plants and pedestrian pathways into the store so that people do not have to walk across a parking lot to get into the store. This side of the store will have a much greener look than the King Street side.
“There will be covered and open parking on the first level of the store with elevators and escalators for easy circulation. The grocery store will be on the second level and will have a café with indoor and outdoor seating. While the interior has not been completely designed, there will be easy circulation around display cases, which will have upgraded lighting.
“There will be a separate building on the site with about 3000 square feet of retail space. At its highest point, the store will be about 47 feet tall, which is not as tall as the office building that is nearby. We are asking for an increase in density from a .5 floor to area ratio to a 1.0 floor to area ratio because of the parking,” Quill said.
The Lifestyle Concept
Lifestyle stores are designed to compete with Whole Foods and Wegmans. “More and more, our customers want pre-prepared food and access to a variety of services in one place and that is what our lifestyle stores give them,” Muckle said. “The new Alexandria store will have an expanded meat and seafood department, a large variety of cheeses and a beer and wine department with a wine steward. There will be a bakery with a hearth oven where many of our breads and other baked goods will be made daily.
“We will have a Starbucks coffee bar and a café with sandwiches, soups and salads that people can carry out or enjoy at one of our indoor or outdoor tables. We will have a floral department, a Bergmann’s dry cleaners and, of course, a full service pharmacy. The only thing that we won’t have at this location that we have in many of our stores is a Suntrust bank because there is one at the Bradlee Shopping Center,” Muckle said.
Safeway has held a number of community meetings and will continue to work with nearby neighbors. “We will incorporate some of the suggestions we have received from the community and continue to work with them as we move forward,” Quill said. “Our goal is to go to the Planning Commission and City Council in November.”
If all goes well, “we will close the current store in late spring or early summer of next year and open the new store about a year later,” Muckle said. “We rebuilt the Georgetown store in 53 weeks, so we believe that this timeline is realistic. We are very excited about bringing this new store to Alexandria because we believe that it will better serve our customers’ needs.”