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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lotte international grocery will replace Safeway in Ravensworth Shopping Center

A rendering of the shopping center after remodeling.
The Safeway at the Ravensworth Shopping Center will close this winter and will be replaced with a Lotte Plaza international grocery store. That change is part of a project to renovate the shopping center outlined at a community meeting Oct. 16.

“We want to create a warm, more inviting environment,” said Don McIlvaine, the general manager of Ravensworth Properties LLC. Ravensworth Shopping Center is just outside the beltway at Braddock Road and Port Royal Road.

The Safeway isn’t being well-maintained, so its lease won’t be renewed when it expires Feb. 28, McIlvaine said. He tried to get Whole Foods to move into that spot, but that didn’t work out. He calls Lotte (pronounced low-tay) a great store that will meet the needs of the surrounding community and urged local residents to try some of the more unusual but delicious products sold there, such as Chinese bitter melons and aloe juice.

Pizza Bazzano will also not have its lease renewed, and Smith & Clarkson Deli will expand into that space, he said. The lease for the 7-Eleven expires in February and the renewal negotiations aren’t going well, so that store might leave as well.

A new Kids First swimming instruction facility will go into the vacant corner where the post office used to be before it moved to a smaller space nearby.

The other existing tenants—including Kilroy’s, the Swiss Bakery, the Boy Scout store, Rite Aid, and DQ—will stay, McIlvaine said. He would like to see a national chain restaurant move into one of the vacant spots.

Construction should start in the middle of March 2015 and should take six months to complete, said Rob Seidel, a principal with Stewart Commercial Realty Services. There won’t be any public hearings, as the project doesn’t involve rezoning or a zoning special exception.

Seidel said the renovation includes more outdoor seating, improved LED lighting, improved landscaping, new brick columns, new signs, new benches, a mansard-style roof design, and a tower element where the two sections come together. The colors for the redesigned shopping center will be olive, bone, burnt orange, and cream, and a wood-like synthetic material will be used.

The footprint of the shopping center won’t change, but “it’s going to look and feel like a new shopping center,” Seidel said. The project is expected to cost nearly $7 million.

The Lotte store will be about 30,000 square feet, the same size as Safeway. Lotte, a family-owned grocery company that started in Rockville about 40 years ago, specializes in fresh produce, fresh seafood, a large variety of Asian food items, and low prices, said Alvin Lee, the director of Lotte Plaza. The company has 10 stores in Virginia and Maryland.

Unlike most international supermarkets that are dimly lit and dirty, Lee said the newer Lotte stores are bright and modern. The Fairfax Lotte, one of the oldest stores in the chain, will be remodeled next year.

Most of the international items in Lotte stores are from south and southeastern Asia. There are some products from Latin America and the Middle East, but shoppers won’t find gourmet items from Europe, Lee said.

He told the audience of mostly white older residents that there will plenty of the standard products they can find in any grocery store, like paper towels, bread, and milk.

Among the low prices Lee rattled off:  live lobsters for $2.99 a pound, five cucumbers for $1, and two pints of blueberries for 99 cents. When asked how Lotte is able to set such low prices, Lee acknowledged that the store charges a bit more for mainstream packaged items and has less variety in those categories. Unlike Safeway, Lotte isn’t unionized.

32 comments:

  1. That guy has had it out for the Safeway for years! That Safeway is a very convenient small grocery both for locals (Ravensworth Farm & North Springfield) and for people on their way to/from work. Not happy that Safeway is getting booted.

    The 7/11 is very busy. It's surprising that they wouldn't want to keep that location. Maybe he wants it gone, too.

    Glad to hear that Smith & Clarkson's is staying and expanding.

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    1. Safeway did not get 'booted'. They chose not to renew their lease under a market rent condition. Further, the offer they made to stay was about half of the market rate and would have necessitated over $1M in site work by the developer.

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    2. Safeway did not 'get booted'. They offered to remain but at about half the market rental rate offered by competitors, and in their proposal to remain, demanded an additional investment of over $2M from the owner. Safeway's sales and the store condition have been lackluster for years. They have lawn sprinklers on the roof to keep their condensers cool in the summer (not 'best practices'). Bottom line is that in this location, Safeway was a poor performer. Why would the landlord invest money in a poor performer?

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. When is the Lotte opening?

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    5. Probably not until 2016. See updated post published in August.

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  2. What a shame. There's plenty of Asian Markets in Annandale. Seems counter intuitive to give the center a facelift and make it "warm" and "inviting", only to put a new grocery store that doesn't reflect the residents who live near it and use it.

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    1. Yes there are plenty Asian Markets but they're competing against one another like Safeway and Giant. Residents who live near and use it would be predominantly Latinos (apts across the street and the new apts when they knock down the Bowling alley).

      What's a shame is the old Bloom that's been sitting vacant for at least a couple years now...

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  3. Well written article, Ellie. ( I was the one sitting next to you at the desk while you scribbled madly.) I asked the question about how Lotte would differ from the other nearby Asian stores, and the only response was that the it would be cleaner and the aisles wider. I also was able to confirm that there would be less variety of grocery items and their prices would be higher. In any event, unless Mr. Lee didn't know what he was talking about, I can't wait to buy two pounds of lobster for $6!

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    1. Wait till you see the produce and fresh fish and meats! You will be blown away!

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  4. Lotte Plaza is one of the worst businesses possible they could have chosen. The Ellicott City location was shut down by the health department when I lived up there, and one of the three owners is a federal felon (convicted for importing the "snakehead" fish into the US for the purposes of sale at another of the Lotte Plaza stores with a different brand name). They had issues with racist practices against Latinos in some of the west coast operations also. Not really the "friendly" chain they portray.

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  5. Wait, What! The Giant is closed for renovations, now we lose the Safeway. Nice timing.

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  6. Really big mistake to take out the Safeway!! We do not want the Lotte Store and it does not fit the neighborhood. I hope our community does not support it and it is replaced with another good store. The things I have read about it are not good. Pizza Bazzano should really stay. It s a wonderful Pizza place run by lovely people. Please find a spot for them in the shopping center.

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  7. This is bad news. I agree that the plaza is not very warm and inviting, but I was not hoping for an "international" grocery store. We already have some of these nearby, like the H Mart and Fresh World. I liked the convenience of Safeway. Frankly, the higher the percentage of whites that are in a store the more I like it. I mean this seriously. If someone wants to get bent out of shape and lecture me about the need to "celebrate diversity" then go right ahead. Some whites accept brainwashing, but not this one. Whites are people too. If nonwhites can celebrate the opening of "international" stores, then whites ought to be able to regret the loss of stores that cater more to their needs.

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  8. Ignorant racists like you are so, so pathetic. You are a dying breed (thankfully).

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    1. Out of respect for the owners of this blog, I will refrain from responding to insults with insults. I do note, however, that you have resorted to name calling and that you are making the mistake of assuming that what you imagine (i.e. that I am ignorant) is actually true.

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  9. Wow, let's bring out the race card :-) Well I am non-white but I agree that there's already tons of international markets. Safeway was really convenient but it was also dingy and not well kept and there's also one like five minutes down the road. The Lotte will bring out horrible drivers but it will increase business for the surrounding businesses. And it will great for all the small business owners. I would of preferred a Wegmans myself.

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  10. Does anyone know if Hong Kong Express is staying? They have the best food and the staff is very friendly!

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  11. The signing of Lotte pretty much sums up the dim future of the shopping center and area. It's not just the store itself, but the fact that it was the best they could find. To think Whole Foods or similar would want to move into the space is hilarious...has the development team even looked at a recent Whole Foods? There is no improvement going into the center...and expansion of a deli that isn't open after lunch...and a swim center? Really?

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  12. The loss of Smith & Clarkson's Deli is a real shame. That is the 2nd local eatery taken as a casualty of the renovation (or at least on of the businesses to leave). The renovations will most likely look better but the demographics of this site will not change. Its never been a strong location by population density due to the 2 large parks/rec center and the land occupied by the beltway. In terms of traffic count Im sure its impressive by the numbers but the center is on the wrong side of the road for commuters coming home off the beltway. I hope things work out but Im guessing Kings Park renovation will crush Ravensworth Shopping Center - your market value is not as high as you believe.

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  13. I agree, I plan on spending my money at Kings Park shopping center.

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  14. Funny thing about Lotte stores. I enjoyed walking around the one at Fairfax Circle (before it closed), but I have a hard time finding anything I actually wanted to buy. It really is a store of limited selections and interests. Hard to imagine it is going to replace a full-service store like a Safeway, even if the Safeway WAS not maintained well. At least it had what you needed. The new Lotte might be more pleasant to visit, but it won't have what you need.

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    1. In Germantown, Md., the Lotte co-exists happily with the Giant less than 100 yards away. The new Kings Park Giant is twice as large as it was.

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  15. Stupid move bringing in an international market place in Annandale. I for one will never shop there with a brand new Giant just down the street. Just another crappy Korean Fish Market like all the others in Annandale. They could of just sold their snakeheads out of the empty Bloom.

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  16. There have been many rumors about what stores are now going to be here. Can someone please provide an accurate update? I heard Lotte is NOT coming to Ravensworth now. I also heard that Smith and Clarkson is not returning. What are the plans for the spaces previously occupied by Safeway, Bazzano's and Smith and Clarkson???

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    1. Lotte is coming. We'll have an update on the shopping center within the next couple of days.

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    2. Can you give us the update on the shopping center? When's Lotte opening?

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  17. I live in Kings Park and am Korean-American. I am so very excited about Lotte coming in Ravensworth shopping center. I didn't shop at Safeway much. With a upgraded Giant opened in Kings Park shopping center twice bigger than before, I think Safeway moving out is a smart move. I am excited about fresh fish, fresh vegies, premade dishes, snacks, etc.

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  18. We should acknowledge the growing variety of demographics of North Springfield and Annandale. Why not a small independent coffee house or tea house? Maybe even a yoga studio. Something that unites and benefits us all. Thinking bigger. Why not commission a Borders Book in that corner spot instead of another grocery store. Or split the space between the two for residents going to and from work.

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  19. For those complaining, maybe you'd prefer a vacant lot instead of bustling foot traffic. You ought to complain to Safeway for leaving while kicking yourself for not shopping there more instead of traveling to nicer grocery stores. Given the still vacant Bloom site on Columbia Pike, this is likely the only decent store they could get - in other words you are overrating your neighborhood. And for the culturally/ethnically insensitive people in North Springfield/Annandale, welcome to America, hope you enjoy your stay. Or maybe you ought to take flight as you are wont to do. (FYI: Canada not safe either as the Underground Railroad ended there - build a wall to "keep them in")

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  20. I was there the day Ravensworth Shopping Center opened in 1965. It was much needed as the nearest grocery store in 1963 was the Giant in Springfield. Later a Grand Union opened at the new Bradlick Shopping Center in 1964. The Safeway was bright and clean, Drug Fair was a plus and Pizza Bazzano was an original tenant. LOVED their pizza. I revisited the center a couple of years ago when I was having my kitchen renovated. The Safeway smelled and looked awful. CVS was now the drug store and the 7-11, beauty shop, pizza place and opticians office (and the post office) were the only original tenants left. I am sorry that a store like Harris-Teeter could not take the Safeway spot. I would have provided a much-needed upscale feel to the center. But the renovations look good. Where the deli is now was the old Northern Virginia Bank. I miss the original barber shop that was cheap and good. Best of luck with the new look and new tenants. I'll miss Pizza Bazanno.

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