Lights and trees have been uprooted and walkways broken apart at Owen Brown Village Center to make room for Giant Food's $10 million expansion, which is on track for the store's grand reopening scheduled for the fall.
The five shops near what used to be a walkway to the back of the shopping center are being demolished, and those tenants - including Hair Cuttery, Owen Brown Liquors and the Dollar Tree - have moved into new sites in the village center.
Fencing and bright orange construction mesh and barrels surround the construction area, where the 39,000-square-foot store will be expanded to 60,000 square feet.
"We're just thrilled with the progress, and the developers have been very cooperative with our architecture committee," said Neil Dorsey, chairman of Owen Brown Village Board. "We think it's just going to be a tremendous boost for the village center."
The remodeled Giant store, which opened in 1978, will have enlarged departments for produce, flowers, meat and seafood, said Jamie Miller, a spokesman for Giant Food Inc., based in Landover.
The store also will have new lighting, shelving and a new facade. Additions include a one-hour photo developing center and a Chevy Chase Bank branch.
Health and beauty items will be set up with the idea of a "store within a store," Miller said.
"In a lot of our older stores, the health and beauty care items are just another aisle," he said. The renovated section will have "a totally different decor and a totally different look than the rest of the store."
Miller said Giant has been remodeling some of its older stores to give them "a fresh new look that hopefully our customers will find attractive." The store is expected to remain open during construction, Miller said.
Plans for the project were unveiled to Owen Brown officials in May 1999, but the project has been delayed and redesigned several times. Groundbreaking took place last year.
Residents had been concerned that shoppers could not easily get to shops and restaurants behind the Giant, such as Sonoma's Bar & Grille.
Giant officials did not meet residents' requests to add a back door to the store to give customers access to shops. The company said it had stopped installing rear doors because of shoplifting concerns, but it agreed to put in windows along the back wall instead.
Dorsey said talks with the developers have eased the village board's concerns about the expansion changing the setup of the village center, which is owned by Giant Food Inc.
He said he hopes the rear shops will become destination businesses and added that village residents have offered positive comments on the relocated shops.
"I think we feel pretty confident that [the shops and restaurants] will not suffer," he said.