Back in December, I shared the news that the Safeway community meeting had been canceled, and for months after that, the Safeway website was not updated and no one really knew what was happening. Well, a few weeks ago, Safeway finally sent out an email and updated their site. Here’s some of what they had to say:
After the stakeholders meeting on November 12, 2008, the Safeway team decided to take a deep breath and evaluate next steps. We recommitted ourselves to taking the time needed to come up with the best designed proposal we could – even if that meant delaying coming back to the stakeholders and community members with a new, detailed plan.
We are very pleased to announce that we have engaged a new architect for this project – someone who is not only a resident of the neighborhood, but who designed the beautiful Whole Foods store in the old Cadillac dealership on Harrison St. in Oakland. Ken Lowney brings decades of experience to this project having designed markets, housing, offices, and mixed use developments all over the Bay Area. (For more detail, visit his website at www.lowneyarch.com.)
Ken received a detailed record of the comments and concerns expressed during each stakeholder meeting and in your many emails. He will use this record to inform the design, taking into account the unique needs and perspectives of neighbors, merchants, residents and many others who care very deeply about this neighborhood. He will soon be meeting with the neighborhood architects group to have the benefit of their expertise and insight.
Safeway plans to convene a community meeting in April to present the detailed plans that Ken prepares and get your comments. Shortly after that meeting we will make a formal application to the City of Oakland to begin the entitlement process. A series of public hearings will be held by the Oakland Planning Commission as this project moves through the approval process.
I am so glad to hear that Safeway is moving ahead with its plans and I look forward to seeing their new proposal. I am hopeful that Safeway is not going to cave in, scrap most of the project, and just do a patch and paint job. I know a vocal minority of neighbors want this to happen and are going to oppose any proposal that’s larger than the current store. For some reason, they think that anything larger would be out of context in the neighborhood. A couple months ago, I took photos of several of the buildings neighboring Safeway to show the true scale of the neighborhood, which is quite different than what some of these neighbors have been claiming:
I think these pictures tell a pretty persuasive story of what the neighborhood looks and feels like. Hopefully Safeway and its new architect will keep these in mind while creating their new proposal.
Previous posts on Safeway: