As is probably obvious to anyone who has driven by the location, construction of a new Safeway store is on hold at the corner of Bothell-Everett Highway and 240th Street Southeast in Bothell.
While calls to Safeway’s corporate offices were not returned, city officials say they have no idea at this point as to when the project might get under way again.
According to Bothell City Community Development Director Bill Wiselogle, the new Safeway was to be the anchor for some 80,000 square feet of retail space. Wiselogle said to his knowledge, construction funds simply have not been made available. He put the blame squarely on the rough economy and the tightness of the current lending market.
In the meantime, Wiselogle said plans for the closely connected mixed-use Greenhill development are also in limbo.
“Clearly,” Wiselogle said, “the Safeway project is having a domino effect.”
City Council approved zoning for the 11-acre Greenhill project in December. At the time, project manager Deloa Parrish said the project is an attempt to create a community where residents can walk everywhere, with retail outlets and other amenities nearby.
Parrish said one of those retail outlets clearly was to be the planned Safeway. The two developments even are slated to share construction of a new road, basically a connector between Bothell-Everett Highway and 88th Street Northeast.
The road intersects with both projects providing additional access, but Parrish said one idea also is to steer drivers away from residential streets in order to reach major roads in that area of Bothell.
For now, the new roadway is on hold along with other development in the immediate area. Parrish said the Safeway portion was slated to be built first, with the Greenhill piece to follow. She further indicated that until Safeway sets a timetable for construction of the road, Greenhill developers can’t set up a specific timetable for their project.
Parrish described the Bothell-Everett Highway work as the first mixed-use development for her company, Greenhill Communities.
At various times, both Wiselogle and Parrish have said the Safeway site is fully excavated. Wiselogle said Safeway officials have been in contact with the city and say they still intend to move ahead at some point.
“They are not abandoning the project, they’re still fully committed,” Wiselogle said.
But when Safeway might be ready to act remains a big question.
“I don’t think anybody knows when they might be ready,” Wiselogle added, stating the general health of the economy probably will determine when the project moves ahead.