Wilson Blvd. Safeway Project in Washington Business Journal

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Safeway Advances Bluemont Redevelopment Plan

Washington Business Journal 4/5/13

by Daniel J. Sernovitz

Original Text


Safeway Inc. has tapped Reston-based Silverwood Cos. for a $50 million-plus redevelopment of its Bluemont grocery store in Arlington, including a new, full-service supermarket and roughly 160 apartments.

The Pleasanton, Calif.-based grocery chain selected Silverwood after issuing a request for proposals to developers last summer. Other prospective bidders included The JBG Cos. of Chevy Chase.

Silverwood and Safeway are still refining their plans and preparing to submit a formal site-plan application to county officials, said Safeway spokesman Craig Muckle. “We’re going to continue to do some work with the community in terms of hearing what their concerns may be.”

The two companies unveiled their plans at a neighborhood meeting April 3.

Silverwood would build a store with about 58,000 square feet, two levels of underground parking beneath it and about 160 apartments above it. The store’s proposed features include an on-site dry cleaner, Starbucks, deli, bakery and other amenities.

Plans for the project, at 5101 N. Wilson Blvd., are in line with similar mixed-use redevelopments Safeway has rolled out in Bethesda, Georgetown and Olney.

The existing 25,000-square-foot store was built in 1958 and last renovated in 1974, saidMark Silverwood, CEO of the development company. “It’s just shy of 40 years since the store’s been renovated. It’s a store that’s greatly underutilized because it’s not modern.”

Silverwood approached Safeway about a decade ago with a proposal to redevelop the store but was unable to reach a deal then because of issues that included surface-parking requirements. The new store will have about 190 underground parking spaces for Safeway and an additional 212 spaces beneath those for residents.

The project will range in height from as low as 40 feet to as high as 60 feet. Reacting to neighborhood concerns, Silverwood told residents at the April 3 meeting the developers have no intention of seeking an extension beyond 60 feet if the project is approved.

Some neighbors initially wanted the building’s height capped at 35 feet, which Silverwood said would not be tall enough to make the venture profitable. Zoning approval is still needed to exceed the current height limit for the site, which Silverwood said would limit the project to the grocery store and about 40 residential units.

As part of the proposal, Safeway would own the store and the parking allotted to it, while Silverwood would own the rest of the project. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Silverwood has retained architecture firm Lessard Design Inc. and is also working with engineering company Vika Inc., Studio39 Landscape Architecture PC and traffic engineering company Wells and Associates LLC.

Silverwood said he hopes to apply for site-plan approval in June.