Safeway on College to close on July 8 for major rebuild

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The shelves at Safeway on College and Claremont avenues are increasingly bare in the countdown to its closure on July 8. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The Safeway store at the intersection of College and Claremont avenues on the Berkeley-Oakland border will close on July 8 for 12 months to undergo a major rebuild which has been more than seven years in the planning.

Neighborhood appeals against the project — which will create a bigger store with a public plaza, rooftop parking and a number of small retail outlets — caused the delay. Concerns centered on the scale of the proposed store.

Eventually the size was reduced, and the store was brought down to street level (from a proposed second-floor design); limits were agreed on the number and type of other retail outlets on site; Safeway was required to provide enough parking for the new development, and to pay for parking permits in perpetuity for nearby residents.  

A bird’s-eye view of plans for a new Safeway to be built on College Avenue at Claremont Avenue in Oakland, just over the Berkeley border. See the full set of plans. Source: Lowney Architecture

The project got the nod from Oakland officials and a hard-won community consensus in December 2012.

The new store is being designed by Lowney Architecture who also worked on revamping the Safeway in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto which was re-opened to the public in October 2012.

Meanwhile, as the store counts down to closing date, its shelves are increasingly bare of products.

Demolition on the store will begin in mid-August, according to Wendy Gutshall, Safeway’s manager for public affairs and government relations. Construction on the new building should be completed in the summer of 2014, she said.

Safeway is directing customers to two other nearby stores: the one on Sattuck Avenue near Rose and the one at 5130 Broadway, near Pleasant Valley Road in Oakland.

Safeway will post updates on the construction on its website

Oakland officials, neighbors sanction Safeway on College (12.20.13) 
Residents air concerns about College Ave. Safeway plans (12.17.12)
Safeway on College needs all-new design after mediation (11.15.12)
Breaking: Neighbors, Safeway agree on College Ave. store (11.13.12)
Op-Ed: Why I support plans for the Safeway on College (11.12.12)
Revamped Safeway opens in heart of Gourmet Ghetto (10.05.12)
Oakland Planning Commission approves Safeway plans (07.27.12)
Berkeley Council unites in opposing Safeway project (07.18.12)
Berkeley City Council to hold hearing on Safeway project (09.20.11)
Locals protest scale, traffic of proposed Rockridge Safeway (08.01.11)
Safeway buys Berkeley’s Chimes Pharmacy, to consolidate (07.12.11)

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  • Wayne Farrens

    Finally! That store is terrible!

  • Guest

    On the upside, it’s looking WAY better than the north Shattuck store did prior to its remodel:

  • guest

    can’t believe the community fought it for 7 years
    what morons

  • FiatSlug

    It’s ludicrous to think that anyone who would otherwise shop at the Safeway on College Ave & Claremont Blvd will actually drive three times the distance to get to the Safeway on Shattuck Ave near Rose St. in Berkeley as opposed to the Safeway in the shopping center on Broadway & Pleasant Valley Rd.

    Not only is the North Berkeley Safeway much more distant, getting there would require either going through the east side of campus or through downtown Berkeley. I don’t know which is worse.

  • The_Sharkey

    The nattering nabobs of Berkeley have gotten very efficient at stalling all new development projects.

    Lucky for us, Safeway is a big enough player that they could wait out the greybeard brigade and push through despite the opposition.

    Sadly, the wheedling and crocodile tears from locals have resulted in a much less attractive design that will be a poorer fit for the neighborhood than the building Safeway originally proposed.

  • whocares

    Since Berkeley has forced all traffic to College, I can’t imagine how this is going to worsen that clusterf$%#k. I hope my favorite neighborhood business isn’t adversely affected, Cole Coffee. And the new store will undoubtedly bring more traffic down claremont and college into the neighborhood. I really don’t know how the traffic will be handled after it opens either. It’s a big box store opening onto a tiny 2-lane street that already can’t handle the current loads.

  • Jeffrey White

    The Broadway store could be packed with customers.

  • foo

    Cars might have to go as slow as the speed limit, which is 25 mph there. Oh the humanity!

  • Woolsey

    You gotta be kidding – did you see the drawings? The original store was oppressive, the current design is not as bad but still overwhelms the intersection. This area has no shortage of grocery vendors. The massive new capacity that Safeway is bringing means that the existing stores must lose business or customers will need to drive to this area from elsewhere. Have you driven on College recently?

  • whocares

    I drive by there all the time. 25 would be super fast on College. BTW, I wasn’t one protesting the new store. The fact is Safeway is pretty lame, even though new shiny ones. I’d rather see a Whole Foods there.

  • whocares

    Oh I live near the new safeway in gourmet ghetto. Sad selection of produce, one cashier and long lines because they want you to use self-checkout to avoid offering jobs to people, and no NUTS. Seriously, I couldn’t find sunflower seeds and pistachios there. Ok, I’ll shut up. I sound like the crazy berkeley person. I’m also mad because I have to now press one extra button at the pumps now, some lame safeway marketing tie-in. I just don’t get all the people getting excited about a new Safeway box store in that location. Look at the one on 51st/Telegraph. Eeek.

  • Safeway neighbor

    I’m surprised by the negative comments toward the many people who fought for a community friendly Safeway store. No one was opposed to a new store or a rehabilitated store. What we wanted was to minimize the adverse impacts to the area. What we got will be a much better outcome for the community and Safeway got what they want, a new store.

  • guest

    All I can say is get them fences up quick after you starts clearin’ the ground. Or them dern Occupiers will start plantin’ carrots again.

  • guest

    whole foods and safeway are basically the same store