Safeway plots mixed-use development in Tenleytown

Safeway, one of the area’s top grocers, has updated its stores and solidified its presence in the region by playing the role of co-developer in mixed-use projects.

Now the Pleasanton, Calif.-based chain has its sights set on its next project, in Tenleytown, where the chain owns a 34,000-square-foot store off of Wisconsin Avenue NW and is considering a mixed-use project featuring a larger, 58,000-square-foot store, with some 150 apartments on top and 10 to 15 new town homes.

Tenleytown could become the third in a string of redevelopment projects Safeway has begun in order to expand and update its stores and leverage its Washington-area real estate holdings.

In Wheaton, the company partnered with Patriot Realty and is nearly underway on a new 17-story residential and retail project to replace its antiquated 24,000-square-foot store at Georgia Avenue and Reedie Drive with a 65,000-square-foot store and 486 apartments.

In the District, Safeway partnered with housing developer Duball LLC on plans to replace its 21,000-square-foot Petworth store, built in 1963, with a new 63,000-square-foot store, underground parking andapartments on top. Plans for the development have been submitted for zoning approval.

Both of those projects build on the chain’s role in City Vista, the 300,000-square-foot residential and retail development that contributed to the resurgence of Mount Vernon Triangle and features a new 55,000-square-foot Safeway.

At 4203 Davenport St. NW, off of Wisconsin Avenue in Tenleytown, the chain owns a one-level store built in 1981 with a surface parking lot in front. Tim Baker, vice president of eastern division real estate for Safeway, said company officials have begun meeting with residents about plans to redevelop the property into a mixed-use project.

Baker cautioned that the company is still gathering input from the community on its Tenleytown plans, but Safeway has issued a request for proposals to housing developers and expects to pick a partner and seek zoning changes later this year.

Safeway’s experience partnering with housing developers and working with residents through the zoning process has allowed the company to align itself with public officials who are looking to fashion their neighborhoods as more walkable, urban and environmentally friendly. The company was recently joined by D.C. officials to celebrate the certification of its refurbished Georgetown store (which is not mixed-use) as an environmentally friendly Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design project.

This is contrast to Wal-Mart, which is looking to sell more groceries and open at least four stores in the District, but is fending off protests. Developing mixed-use projects is more complex work than simply rehabilitating grocery stores, but Baker, who used to work for Wal-Mart, said it pays off. “The way we look at it is, we can get an even better project that way,” he said.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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