Demolition began Monday on the Safeway store on College and Claremont.Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Demolition began Monday on the Safeway store on College and Claremont.Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan joined Safeway officials and neighborhood activists Monday to celebrate the official groundbreaking for a new store at the intersection of College and Claremont avenues.

After a few hellos and speeches, everyone got down to the main event: watching two huge bulldozers start to tear down the 49-year-old structure.

“Right now we have a store to knock down so let’s get some sledgehammers and get going,” Todd Paradis, Safeway’s real estate manager, said to the two dozen people assembled.

Within minutes, the facade of the store had been ripped away. The demolition is scheduled to be finished this week.

Construction of the new store will take about a year. Safeway hopes to reopen a brand new lifestyle store, complete with bakery, pharmacy, meat department, fish department, and a large produce section and Starbucks café, around July 1, 2014, said Paradis.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (in pink jacket) and officials pose before the Safeway demolition. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
The interior of the Safeway store was stripped before demolition began. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Hard hats for the groundbreaking crew. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Sledgehammers used at the demolition event. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The old store, which was constructed in 1964, employed about 92 people, according to figures put out by Safeway. The new store will have 170 employees, as well as 30 to 50 part-time workers, making a net gain of 108-128 new jobs. Annual sales and property tax revenue to Oakland will increase by $422,500, according to Safeway.

The Safeway store sits right on the border with Berkeley, and city officials expressed concern to Oakland about the traffic impacts of the new store and accompanying retail spaces. In response, Safeway agreed to move the store 10 feet back from the property line and donate the space to Oakland to create an extra traffic lane. Safeway will also add a bulb-out for AC Transit buses to ease passenger loading.

It took about eight years for Safeway to come to an agreement with neighborhood activists about the size of the grocery store. In the end, the company agreed to reduce the store’s footprint, to 45,500 square feet, and place it at street level.

Safeway on College to close July 8 for major rebuild (07.02.13)
Residents air concerns about College Ave. Safeway plans (12.17.12)
Safeway on College needs all-new design after mediation (11.15.12)
Breaking: Neighbors, Safeway agree on College Ave. store (11.13.12)
Op-Ed: Why I support plans for the Safeway on College (11.12.12)
Revamped Safeway opens in heart of Gourmet Ghetto (10.05.12)
Oakland Planning Commission approves Safeway plans (07.27.12)
Berkeley Council unites in opposing Safeway project (07.18.12)
Berkeley City Council to hold hearing on Safeway project (09.20.11)
Locals protest scale, traffic of proposed Rockridge Safeway (08.01.11)
Safeway buys Berkeley’s Chimes Pharmacy, to consolidate (07.12.11)

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...