Safeway plans to open new Bellingham store this fall

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDApril 3, 2014 

New Safeway

Safeway announces it is officially coming to Bellingham. An artists rendering of the new Safeway that will occupy the former Cost Cutter location in Sunset Square.

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

BELLINGHAM - Safeway officially announced that it will be returning to Bellingham this fall.

The company is investing $13 million to remodel the former Cost Cutter building at Sunset Square as well as install a gas station at the northwest corner of Sunset Drive and James Street, near Starbucks.

Construction is expected to begin in May, with an opening planned for October, according to a company news release.

The store will have 67,000 square feet of space, allowing the company to include all of its specialty departments. That includes a scratch bakery, fresh deli, wine department, an organic and natural foods section, a Starbucks kiosk and a pharmacy.

In total, the store will employ about 130 people, said Sara Osborne, public and government affairs director at Safeway. She said a decision has not been made on what hours the store will be open.

Safeway also plans to offer several specialty categories, including gluten-free products, humane-certified options, grass-fed beef and local products. It also will have a gathering space with seating, a fireplace and free Wi-Fi.

The pharmacy, which is currently in operation next door to the soon-to-be-remodeled store, will remain open during construction.

The Bellingham Safeway will be smaller than the 75,188-square-foot former Cost Cutter. Plans include removing a portion of the southwest corner of the building to put in an outside seating area.

Safeway currently has a store in Lynden and had stores in Bellingham until it left the city in 1993.

The new grocery store and fueling station will fill a significant amount of space in Sunset Square, which is undergoing a makeover. Goodwill is remodeling the former Regal movie theater space to create more retail, office and classroom space for its nearby store, and permits were submitted to build a Taco Bell in the southeast corner of the former Cost Cutter parking lot.

Safeway Inc. currently operates 1,335 stores in the U.S. and had sales of $36.1 billion in 2013. It is currently in negotiations to merge with Albertsons, a deal that needs approval from shareholders as well as the Federal Trade Commission.

Osborne said plans for the Bellingham Safeway have not changed with the merger announcement.

Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com or call 715-2269.

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