Safeway and Big Lots on Jefferson Boulevard closing

By Monica Stark

The Safeway on West Capitol Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard will be closed by the end of the month, Wendy Gutshall, director of public and government affairs, Safeway Northern California Division, told the News-Ledger in a written statement. Gutshall said Safeway anticipates all employees will be able to be placed in surrounding stores. Meanwhile, shoppers have been taking advantage of the 25 percent off everything sale.
“The decision to close a store isn’t one we make lightly or without a great deal of deliberation. Like all retailers, we’re constantly evaluating the performance of our portfolio of stores, and our teams work hard to make all of our stores successful. That said, it’s occasionally necessary to close locations that aren’t meeting company goals,” she stated.
“Closing an underperforming store is always a tough decision, but we’re focused on growing our business and running great stores where people love to shop. That’s what will enable us to offer the products and services our customers value most throughout Sacramento,” Gutshall continued.
She, however, did not address the following additional questions:

Will Safeway open another location in West Sac? If not, why not?
How many employees currently work at the West Sacramento one?
Does the store experience more shoplifting than average?
How long has the West Sac Safeway location been there?
Are there other California locations that are closing for the same reasons as this one? If so, which ones? Have you received pleas to have Safeway stay? (It seems a lot of neighbors are sad it is closing.)

As Safeway prepares closing its West Sacramento location, neighboring Big Lots is also shutting its doors, spawning discussion on web forums regarding shoplifting and homelessness affecting the success and viability of the stores.
Meanwhile, Mayor Christopher Cabaldon says there is no reuse project or store slated to move in right away. He explains the property is privately owned and the City does not select tenants, and the owner is beginning to market the spaces (about 50,000 square feet) to new retail tenants. No project plan to renovate or build something new has been submitted to City Hall.
“Even though our city’s population has tripled since Safeway opened, the supermarket and drugstore industries have tightened, as many traditional stores have been squeezed on the high end by the Nugget, Whole Foods, and others, and on the other end of the spectrum by groceries at Target, WalMart, Grocery Outlet, and online via Amazon. Like Raley’s two blocks away, Safeway has been an important employer and community institution, and we’re sorry to see them go, but the economic reality they’re facing is undeniable,” he wrote.
He continued by acknowledging the change the three generations that Safeway has been at the site has faced. “An entire downtown grew up next door, as the Civic Center, college, library, senior apartments, preschool, teen center, theater, gallery, and community center came online over the past few years. West Capitol Avenue next to the shopping center got a complete makeover and daytime consumers from the offices, residents, and students who now inhabit the downtown. Walgreens and Capitol Bowl did major renovations. Multiple motels came down. A new transit center connected the whole city to the place, along with bikeshare linking downtown and the northern and waterfront districts. And the new streetcar line will start right at the shopping center’s front doorstep.
“The modern land use plan for downtown envisions and allows a much more dynamic, mixed-use, retail-focused center where Safeway and Big Lots now sit. Instead of the 55,000 square feet of retail space, the City would now permit ten times that much, along with housing, offices, and parking. The pictures below from the West Capitol Avenue Streetscape Master Plan give a sense of what’s possible (although the pictures reflect a 2007 design aesthetic). If you’re familiar with the latest Midtown projects, it permits projects on the scale of the Ice Blocks or the Cannery. Click through to the link below to see the full plan and imagine what’s possible.
T”o emphasize, this is a private commercial center and the property owner will decide whether and how to fill the existing spaces and/or to rebuild or sell the parcel for a mixed-use retail project that would serve the West Sacramento of today and tomorrow. But the window of opportunity is open.”

So, with that, dear reader, what would you like to see in place of Safeway and Big Lots? Send an email with your suggestions to editor@news-ledger.com.

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