Bluemont neighbors held a tense but cordial discussion over the potential redevelopment of the Safeway site at 5101 Wilson Blvd. Only about 40 people showed up to the meeting in what is geographically one of the county’s largest civic associations, so it’s a little tough to draw conclusions about “what the civic association wants” based on this sample size.
However, the discussion centered around what the community wants and does not want on the space. Legally, Safeway could develop the parcel “by right,” meaning that they could put any building there that matched current zoning laws. This allows for a building up to 35 feet.
Some in th audience wanted to hold Safeway to that, which is a three-floor building. Others were willing to go to four floors.
A representative from JBG Companies was there, and his basic assessment was that he thought Safeway would sit on the property, unimproved, if the company could not find the right developer. Using back of the envelope calculations, he added that most developers would want as many as five floors total to make the project profitable.
In a request for proposals, Safeway is asking that the project include a 58,000 to 65,000 square foot Safeway store with 170 parking spaces below the building. For that, the company is willing to sell the “airspace” above the building for residential development.
In a survey completed a couple years ago just over 50 percent of the neighbors said they would want a building that was three floors or fewer.