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News / Business / Clark County Business

Rumors swirl after Safeway property on Mill Plain in east Vancouver is sold

Holding company that bought site managed by dealer principal at Las Vegas-based Swickard Auto Group

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 3, 2024, 6:06am

Rumors of east Vancouver’s Safeway falling to a Mercedes-Benz dealership have swirled around the community for weeks. The rumors may come true, but not seemingly right away.

Portland’s Beardsley Building Management purchased the property at 13719 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd., in 2013. Last October, Beardsley sold the property to a holding company called SC Vancouver RE I LLC for $14.5 million, according to county records.

The holding company was formed in Washington in July 2023 and is managed by Jeff Swickard, according to state records.

Swickard is the dealer principal at Las Vegas-based Swickard Auto Group, which owns about 40 car dealerships in California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Alaska and Hawaii.

In Oregon, Swickard Auto Group owns Mercedes-Benz of Wilsonville, Gresham Toyota, Swickard Honda in Gladstone and BMW of Eugene. It also owns several luxury car dealerships in the Seattle metro area.

Public records also include an October real estate document listing Safeway Inc. as lessee, SC Vancouver RE I as lessor and Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA as lender.

Neither Swickard Auto Group nor Safeway responded to requests for comment. As lease agreements are not usually made public, there’s no clear answer about how much time is left on Safeway’s lease.

However, no one has submitted to the city of Vancouver any plans to transform the grocery store into an auto dealership, according to a city spokesperson.

Just down the street, Holman Auto Group has submitted plans to build a Lexus dealership at the Landing at Vancouver, just west of the planned Southeast 139th Avenue expansion.

The east Vancouver Safeway was slated to close due to a dispute with the former landlord in 2018. It was ultimately saved.

The 68,000-square-foot store opened at the corner of Mill Plain Boulevard and Southeast 136th Avenue in 1993, moving across the street from a smaller store. Before that, the building housed a Zupan’s supermarket.

As part of their proposed merger, Kroger — which owns Fred Meyer — and Albertsons — which owns Safeway — would need to dispose of hundreds of stores across the country, including at least 104 in Washington.

The merger has faced numerous legal challenges. Earlier this year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued to block it, calling the company’s divestiture plans “inadequate” and “a hodgepodge of unconnected stores, banners, brands, and other assets that Kroger’s antitrust lawyers have cobbled together and falls far short of mitigating the lost competition between Kroger and Albertsons.”

Kroger has eight Fred Meyer and QFC stores in Clark County, and Albertsons operates 14 Albertsons and Safeway stores locally.