A mini-Safeway coming to downtown SJ?
I took a tour of the fancy, nearly-complete "88" condos at 3rd & San Fernando Streets yesterday, and the sales agent mentioned that the the SJ Business Journal had just published an article claiming that Safeway would be opening an experimental "urban store" in the building. She then smiled and said that the SJBJ has better sources than she does.
The "88" has 32,000 sq.ft. available for retail tenants, with none announced so far. The "urban store" designation implies a smaller than normal floor area, and some degree of specialization, so it could wind up being more like the nearby Zanotto's than like a standard Safeway. Still, it would be a great thing for the heart of town if it did happen.
Does anyone have further info?
According to the East Bay Business Times, the Safeway small format stores are probably a pre-emptive strike against the (British) Fresh & Easy chain, which is set to invade the Bay Area next year. To me, it sounds like a revival of a concept they experimented with decades ago, when they opened the "Bon Appetit" store(s) including the one that is now the Safeway on Jackson St. near the Golden Gateway.
I'm not sure about the SJ location, but it's true that SWY is testing small format stores intended to compete against Walmart's and Tesco's small format stores.
Safeway Opens First Small-Format Store
May 23, 2008
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway Inc. announced the opening of its first small-format store, The Market, in Long Beach, Calif., according to SupermarketNews.com. The 15,000-sq.-ft. store will replace the Vons location that closed in January 2008. According to the company, The Market concept is an option for approximately 25 locations nationwide, particularly for smaller stores that have not yet been renovated to the newer Lifestyle format. Safeway currently operates 1,740 stores throughout the United States and Canada.
About a week ago, the SJ City Council approved a liquor license for a future Safeway at the 88, so now it's a go.
I hope that they can get it up and running soon, and that Zanotto's can respond to this competition effectively and creatively.
I also hope that Safeway can make a go of it. The units in the four large new(ish) upscale condo projects downtown -- City Heights, The Axis, the 360, and the 88 -- are still unsold for the most part.