Safeway oficials signed a four-year lease with three Korean businessmen yesterday to run their downtown Anacostia store.

The grocery at 14th Street and Good Hope Road SE has been at the center of controversy since last July when Safeway officials announced they would shut it down because of problems of pilferage, a deteriorating building and low profit margins.

After city administrator Elijah Rogers intervened, Safeway agreed to keep it open until April 1 while it worked with a community task force to find new operators. The Korean businessmen made an offer last year but representatives of the 10,000 black residents served by the store had searched for black businessmen to run the grocery.

Finding no takers, the community leaders had scheduled a meeting today for residents to decide whether they would support a store operated by Koreans.

Yesterday, Safeway property manager John Mitchell first denied, then acknowledged, that the lease had been signed. But, he added, "We're not going to go through with it until we hear from the community."

The three Korean businessmen are Young Kil Lee, who operates the Metro Market at 2130 P St. NW., Hyong Byong Yun, who operates the Super Asian Market at 2719 Wilson Blvd., in Arlington and Sun Kun Chang, an accountant, in Arlington, who acts as an interpreter for his two partners.