Supermarket chain returns to area

Safeway opens today in shopping center on town's west side

July 28, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,SUN STAFF

Safeway, a grocery chain that closed its doors in Westminster 11 years ago, returns to the community today with the opening of a store on the booming west side, where the residents are many but the stores have been few.

The site at the new $8 million College Square shopping center on Route 140, near Western Maryland College, is the national grocer's third store in the county. The others are in Eldersburg and Mount Airy. In Westminster, Safeway will compete against seven other supermarkets.

But its location might give it a competitive edge.

"We do a lot of research on what locations work, and our folks believe this will be profitable," said Craig Muckle, a spokesman for the supermarket chain.

With the town's rapid residential growth on the west side, Safeway has felt a need for its services in Westminster, he said. And the store wanted to build away from the densely populated business sector elsewhere along Route 140. Safeway is the first grocery store to open in Westminster in seven years.

Doug Mathias, executive director of the Greater Westminster Development Corp., said he believes the store will generate a lot of shoppers.

"On the Route 31 side of town and residential area south of there is where half of Westminster lives," Mathias said, adding that he estimated about 8,000 people live around the College Square shopping center.

The 90,000-square-foot shopping center is 90 percent leased. Besides Safeway, the shopping center will house a dry cleaner, nail salon, day care, used-book store and Italian and Chinese restaurants, the developer said.

Dixon Harvey, president of Black Rock Associates Inc. of Eldersburg, developer of the center, said Blockbuster Video just leased space, and the national video chain is expected to open in September.

Black Rock has signed a 50-year lease on the land with WMC Development Corp., Western Maryland College's for-profit enterprise.

As part of the project, the city of Westminster required the developer to install a traffic light at Route 140 and WMC Drive, one of the entrances.

The developer also was required to install a traffic light at Routes 140 and 31, and extend WMC Drive to West Main Street.

"People will be able to go to a supermarket without going up onto Route 140," said Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan, who added he planned to try out the grocery store with his family this weekend.

Safeway is among the first businesses to open its doors in the shopping center. The nail salon and the day care have opened. Eleven others are expected to open by the end of next month.

The Westminster Safeway is 25,000 square feet larger than the previous store on the east side of Westminster.

That store closed in 1988, at a time when the chain was going through a leveraged buyout, company officials said.

The new store is 55,000 square feet, a size Muckle says is the chain's "corporate standard."

The store is smaller than the Eldersburg store. Once a Giant supermarket, the Eldersburg store was transformed into a Safeway in October.

The 24-hour Westminster store will offer an in-store bakery, full-service deli, and floral, meat, produce and seafood departments.

Pub Date: 7/28/99

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