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Albertsons closed its Birchwood store in 2016. What's the latest on the property?

The Albertsons grocery store on Birchwood Avenue in Bellingham closed May 2016. The property has been sold for $2 million.
The Albertsons grocery store on Birchwood Avenue in Bellingham closed May 2016. The property has been sold for $2 million. The Bellingham Herald file

Nearly two years after Albertsons closed its grocery store in the Birchwood neighborhood, the supermarket giant has sold the property for $2 million.

GGD Oakdale LLC, a California-based real estate development firm, bought the store at 1650 Birchwood Ave. in Bellingham.

The property has an assessed value of $3.3 million.

Albertsons closed the Birchwood store May 7, 2016.

Sixty-six jobs were cut, and the neighborhood lost its one major grocery store.

That raised concerns because the closest big market after the closure was more than a mile away, and many people in the neighborhood are lower-income and walk to nearby businesses.

Albertsons owned the 41,261-square-foot space, and said in 2016 that it was looking to lease the space.

There was reportedly a non-compete clause, meaning another grocery store would not be able to go into that space, at that time.

That likely is still the case.

"Our understanding is that there is a provision of sale that would not allow a grocery store use," Whatcom County Treasurer Steve Oliver said.

It wasn't immediately known what GGD Oakdale planned to do with the property, although the company is known for focusing on fitness facilities.

Neither GGD Oakdale nor Albertsons could be reached for comment Wednesday.

A community group calling itself Birchwood Food Desert Fighters said it was "very disappointed that after nearly two years there still will not be a grocery store in the neighborhood and that a non-compete clause persists despite new ownership of the Albertsons building."

"We will continue to support residents of the neighborhood until there is accessible, healthy food available to everybody in the neighborhood, not just the privileged who can drive to and afford any store they please," the group said in a statement.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

The sale price was corrected March 21, 2018.

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