Friday, August 19, 2011

New Retail Center South of Georgetown's Social Safeway, Coming Soon

When the new Safeway at 1855 Wisconsin Avenue NW was constructed, the parking lots to the south, on Wisconsin Avenue, were left untouched, to be developed later. Later is now, as Safeway Inc. began work this week on the project, which also includes renovation of an existing building, south of the lots.

A retail center - known as Georgetown East Park Center - described as a "continuation of [Safeway's] overall Georgetown project," by Safeway spokesperson Craig Muckle, is now under construction, by Roche Constructors.

Superseding the parking lot will be a brick building (a nod to the look and feel of the Safeway) with three retail spots fronting Wisconsin Avenue. The building will be connected, by an archway over a driveway, to an existing brick building (at 1815 Wisconsin Ave) which will be revamped, and will retain two storefronts on Wisconsin.

Einstein Bros Bagels, now closed for construction, occupied the corner location of the monolithic brick building at 1815 Wisconsin Avenue, which once housed four retailers, but will soon house three.

Though the building's envelope will remain largely as is, the face on Wisconsin Ave will be split into two distinct architectural styles; additionally both styles will be unique from that of the new building to the north.

The project was designed by Torti Gallas and Partners, under the direction of lead architect Brian O'Looney, along with architect of record Rounds VanDuzer Architects; the same team was responsible for the Safeway next door, which delivered in May of 2010.

Rounds Van Douzer Architects, out of Falls Church, has also designed the Bethesda Safeway, coming in September.

In 2008, Safeway Inc. formed the subsidiary - Property Development Centers (PDC) - with the goal of developing grocery-anchored retail centers nationwide. Safeway Inc. also purchased the retail building at 1815 Wisconsin Ave in 2008, for $4.2 million.

KLNB Retail is responsible for the leasing of five new tenants for the retail center; Einstein Bros Bagels is set to return, but will likely settle into the new northern building, not its old corner spot.

Another, nearly identical brick building to the south of 1815, at 1803-1805 Wisconsin Avenue, NW - now occupied by Sherwin Williams Paint and Next Day Blinds - is not owned by Safeway, and will not be redeveloped.

Amendment to article, 8/22: In response to some confusion over what kind of retail will be offered at the center, a previously included mock-up layout has been replaced by one without the names of any potential retailers, as lease-ups on site have not been confirmed.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


Ben said...

This is a missed opportunity for Georgetown. There is not that much going on through this section of Wisconsin Avenue, with the Holiday Inn just to the north and the park and cemetery up the hill and across the street.

This parcel is considerably large, especially with the existing surface parking lot and the grass patch left over from the construction of the Safeway. A really nice 4-5 story mixed use building could have been built here, bringing more residents to support local businesses.

Britt said...

I have to agree with Ben on this one. It doesn't seem like they're doing much, other than updating the buildings. I'm worried that this "retail center" is really going to be a mini strip mall. I will admit that I don't know much about development, but I do know retail and the stores in the plans include a Vitamin Shop and a Radio Shack. If these are definitely going in, I have to ask why? The new Safeway development already has a Verizon store and there's a Radio Shack, albeit a small one, in Tenley, across from Best Buy. As for vitamins, between Safeway and Whole Foods, I'm sure you can find a nice selection.

This area has a lot of potential, and even with these new plans, my only destination will be Safeway.

Jacques on Aug 19, 2011, 2:38:00 PM said...

I have to agree with Ben and Britt -- this is boring, and it doesn't improve the neighborhood in the slightest. Adding a bit more density here would not only enliven the retail, but would make the sidewalks more lively (and safer) in the evenings, as most of these shops close by 8 or 9.

As to the retail items, I think the post made it clear that outside of Einsteins, these are all theoretical.

Anonymous said...

At first I thought the rendering showed the existing buildings. Wow, this is really bland. The immediate area is not historically sensitive: Couldn't they do something larger and more exciting?

Ellen McCarthy said...

I agree with the gist of the other posts. This section of upper Georgetown/Glover Park is in great need of additional vitality. When one looks at the success of the City Vista Safeway, the Columbia Heights and Van Ness Giants, and the Whole Foods at Friendship Heights and on P Street, it is so difficult to understand Safeway's continuing reluctance to create true mixed-use residential/retail projects on sites that they own. There are several great assets to build upon in that area, including Jelleff, Dumbarton Oaks, Hardy, the Flea Market, the Georgetown Library, existing retail, the Holiday Inn, etc.; the Safeway projects, were they to include residential units as well as retail, could create a critical mass and be the glue to hold it together, to make a "there" there. Hopefully, the ANC and community will take the same proactive position that characterized the response to Safeway's initial plans for the redevelopment of its store off Wisconsin at Ellicott, which looks like it will be a model of mixed-use.

Anonymous said...

Safeway seems to be more pragmatic in its store development, certainly more than its rival Giant. (In some ways, Safeway is also more creative, such as building its new Georgetown store to be LEED certified, even in a matter-of-right development, when Giant's PUD planned further up Wisconsin Avenue isn't going to be LEED-certified.) By sticking to matter-of-right, Safeway built its Georgetown store in a few years, while Giant's Cathdral Commons near McLean Gardens has yet to break ground. Maybe this is because Giant can't get committed financing until the appeal of the Zoning Commission's PUD order is decided -- and it seems increasingly likely that the DC Court of Appeals will overturn the PUD order and send the whole project to the BZA to start over again. Meanwhile Safeway continues to grab market share from Giant.

Anonymous said...


This is the second time you, or some other anon poster has made this claim. On what legal basis, given precedent, do you make the claim that those appealing the PUD order have a chance at success?

Anonymous said...

This is great news. We do need some new retail in the neighborhood. I'm sure Safeway will do a great job with the buildings and keep our Georgetown look just like they did on the Grocery project. We dont need anymore overpriced cheap clothes stores or another gallery that no one shops anyway. I am also glad to see they have the same contractor Roche. They were excellent when they built Safeway and really took they Neighborhood and both schools intersts and safety during their work. Welcome back.

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