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Reopening of Safeway in Ashland tentatively set for November

Ashland’s long-empty Safeway grocery store is slated for re-opening as a Safeway market about the first of November, with many features that make it “an entirely new store.”

The re-born Safeway will have an all-new Starbucks department with heated outdoor patio, says Jill McGinnis, Safeway Communications Manager in Portland, in an email.

The produce department will be in the center of the store, which will have all-new cases throughout the market, including the meat department, she notes. The store will feature a homeopathic section, Oregon wine cases, kombucha growler station, fresh sushi and bulk foods, including organic.

The old Safeway was bought in a star-crossed merger with Albertsons, but, in an effort to prevent monopoly, the Federal Trade Commission in 2015 forced Albertsons to sell it and many other Safeways. It was bought and occupied for several months by the Haggen market chain, which filed for bankruptcy last September, resulting in closure of the Ashland store and the layoff of some 75 employees.

Haggen sued Albertson’s, claiming it tried to hamper their startups with unfair trade practices. The FTC then allowed Albertsons to buy back 33 Safeway stores, including Ashland’s. It got an asbestos removal treatment this spring.

McGinnis did not answer multiple phone calls, but summed up progress via email. She said a Nov. 2 opening is tentatively scheduled, but construction issues could change that.

Starbucks has locations downtown, in Albertson’s market on Highway 66 and on the Southern Oregon University campus — and about a year ago closed its spot on Siskiyou Boulevard, south of the campus. The new Safeway location will be the only central outlet with ample parking for the chain java giant.

The Safeway at 585 Siskiyou Blvd. at Sherman Street was built in the 1960s. Its long closure, which will total about 14 months, has created something of a mini-“food desert” around downtown, except for the Ashland Food Cooperative, where finding parking can be difficult.