In the District’s less prosperous days, Safeway — the city’s top grocery chain for decades — was often competing only with itself. After years of population declines, swaths of D.C. neighborhoods did not have any grocery stores at all, much less competitors on the same street.
Now that the city is undergoing an economic and demographic resurgence, Safeway is at the center of a battle among grocers to cash in on the Washington area’s boom.
The company, based in Pleasanton, Calif., is moving aggressively to keep its footing. At the moment, Safeway is building two new local stores, both with hundreds of apartments on top, and is planning to build or rebuild four stores beginning this year or the next in Alexandria, Rockville, Upper Marlboro and Hyattsville.
Another four stores are in the pre-planning stages for redevelopment, and the chain has already made clear to D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) that it would like to build a new store at the former site of the Walter Reed hospital, which the District is planning to redevelop.