Safeway Unveils New Plans for Ocean Beach Store
In front of a glowing fire in the Great Hall of the San Francisco zoo, representatives from Safeway and the store’s adjacent residents gathered for a highly-anticipated unveiling of a new model for the grocery store’s proposed renovation.
The new model attempts to accommodate the many concerns of the residents who live on three sides of the current store, ranging from complaints of the noisy parking lot to the traffic annoyance of trucks arriving at a loading dock.
The meeting was managed by Natalie Mattei, a real-estate manager for Safeway, who was emphatic in communicating Safeway’s intent to engage the residents throughout the process.
“We are trying to turn over a new leaf in communication,” Mattei said during the presentation. “We want to be more transparent and more accountable.”
The focus of the meeting was a presentation given by Ken Lowney from Lowney Architecture. Lowney used an interactive 3-D model to virtually “walk” the audience through the new plan.
The new plan shows a clear response to a substantial concern regarding the first proposal for the building: height. The first proposal, released in January, was much taller than the current Safeway, and would have obstructed the ocean view of many neighbors.
Safeway has responded with new models that call for sinking the building below street level. At its lowest, the building will be 12 feet above ground, and 20 feet at its highest. The interactive model at the event allowed residents to get a virtual view from their living-room windows to see how the building would look from their homes.
Safeway plans to embed the video tour of its virtual model that it showed at the meeting at a website dedicated to chronicling the evolution of the process of the store’s remodel.
Many audience members voiced gratitude for Safeway’s responsiveness to their concerns. On the other hand, the new model comes with its own set of challenges.
The new model puts part of the parking lot below ground, but another part aboveground. And since the parking lot historically has been a site for graffiti and disruptive noises, some residents voiced concern that elevating the parking lot might amplify these concerns.
Safeway promised to include all of these concerns in their website and to continually address them in their evolving design.
The next phase of the project will be to host another community meeting in which all neighbors are invited, and not just those immediately adjacent to the store.
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