Stores closing to make way for development: Centennial Village Project includes housing, shopping, offices

The Safeway on El Camino Real and South Spruce Avenue in South San Francisco closed on Saturday, July 12 to make way for a new shopping center.

With the closure of a Safeway at the corner of El Camino Real and South Spruce Avenue to make way for the new mixed-use shopping, housing and office development, it’s full speed ahead for the new South San Francisco shopping center.

Safeway officially closed its doors July 12 and auctioned off store items July 17. City officials are happy to have the Centennial Village project begin to transform the 1965-era shopping center. Construction is expected to start later this year.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Vice Mayor Rich Garbarino. “It’s not been an easy road to get there from both sides. Gradually, we collaborated together and got a great project going there.”

The project includes 222,000 square feet of commercial space, with 42,400 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, 35,300 square feet of office space on the second floor and 284 residential units on the upper floors, all located on a 14.5-acre site at 180 El Camino Real. Ground floor tenant spaces would include a new Safeway, 30,000 square feet of commercial retail space, a 36,000-square-foot health club and 21,000 square feet of smaller commercial tenant spaces.

Back and forth between the developer, WT Mitchell Group, and city lasted seven years. Ultimately, the developer made changes to appease the city including the addition of a clause that allowed for prevailing wages for all construction workers, putting in a minimum of 150 apartments above a 58,000-square-foot Safeway and reducing the term of the development agreement from 20 years to 10 years.

Still some residents are sad to see the Safeway close, including Madeline Lobo, who said she has gone to the Safeway for 30 years. Lobo plans to shop at the Safeway in Millbrae since the El Camino Real and South Spruce Avenue Safeway is closed.

“Everyone likes coming here because it’s convenient,” she said. “A lot of people around here are sad.”

Safeway’s merchandiser Cornerstone Display Group hopes to have the store completely cleared out by July 25. The shelving and office furniture that didn’t sell at the auction July 17 is up for sale on This is one of the smallest stores Safeway has, said Garrett Malik, special projects manager for Cornerstone.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear when the other businesses at the shopping center, CVS, Bally’s Total Fitness and Bedroom Express, will shut their doors for the construction, but could remain open until the end of the year since plans were to start work on the new center in late 2014 or early 2015. The Safeway closed early because it was underperforming and there will be a Halloween store there for three months of temporary use, according to Mayor Karyl Matsumoto.

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