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News / Business / Clark County Business

Southeast Mill Plain Safeway store will close by Dec. 1

By Anthony Macuk, Columbian business reporter
Published: October 25, 2018, 4:43pm
5 Photos
A customer leaves the Safeway at 13719 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. on Thursday afternoon.
A customer leaves the Safeway at 13719 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. on Thursday afternoon. (Nathan Howard/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Safeway will close its store at 13719 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. in east Vancouver by Dec. 1, the company said Thursday.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to come to a lease agreement with the current landlord,” Safeway spokeswoman Jill McGinnis said in an email. “Our team is working with the affected employees and the labor unions, where applicable, and anticipate placing 100 percent of the employees in neighboring stores.”

Building owner and landlord John Beardsley said Safeway officials wanted the monthly rent lowered for the property. Beardsley, of Beardsley Building Management in Portland, said he’d agreed to Safeway’s latest offer: to pay a rent equal to two-thirds of the previous amount. Beardsley, who would not reveal the rent amount, said Safeway backed out of that verbal agreement. McGinnis did not respond to an email request for comment on Beardsley’s assertion.

Safeway had been at the corner of Mill Plain Boulevard and Southeast 136th Avenue since its opening in 1993. Beardsley said he bought the store in 2015.

Safeway employees at the store heard about the closure date on Tuesday. On Thursday evening, there were no signs or other indicators about the closure posted at the store. Local employees and store management staff referred all questions to Safeway’s corporate division.

News that the store would likely close was first reported in May, but the closure still appeared to come as a surprise. A few customers and workers at nearby businesses who spoke to The Columbian said they had heard about the impending closure, but most expressed surprise at the news and said they expected that the closure would have a significant impact on the surrounding area.

“I think it’s going to be pretty hard for our neighborhood,” said Angela Brewer, who described herself as a regular shopper at the location and said that both of her children had worked after-school jobs there during high school. “The Safeway’s been here for a long time.”

A few other customers said they relied on the Safeway for smaller shopping trips but would probably adjust to the change, and several noted the presence of other nearby grocery stores such as the WinCo at 905 N.E. 136th Ave. Other food stores near the Safeway include Whole Foods Market at 815 S.E. 160th Ave., Chuck’s Produce & Street Market at 13215 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., Trader Joe’s at 305 S.E. Chkalov Dr. and New Seasons Market at 2100b S.E. 164th Ave. Also nearby: two Fred Meyer locations.

“I imagine it’ll be kind of a big impact,” said Rob Smith. “Generally I shop at WinCo, but this just happened to be on the way home.”

The store on Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard is one of three Safeway stores in Vancouver east of Interstate 205.

The 68,000-square-foot Safeway location is being marketed as available at the beginning of 2019. Commercial Realty Advisors Northwest, the brokerage overseeing its lease, said rent could cost about $12 per square foot. Evergreen School District officials looked at the site for potential administrative offices earlier this year but were not interested, a district spokeswoman said.

The Safeway includes a gas station in the parking lot, and the marketing listing for the site includes a description of the gas station with a separate rental rate of $125,000 per year.

Reporters Katie Gillespie and Allan Brettman contributed.

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