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Ashland Safeway has plans to reopen

Given the numerous utility hikes in Ashland in recent years, I'm curious who is keeping the lights on at the old Safeway? Public safety is important, I understand, but who is paying the bill?

— Joshua S., Ashland

Well Joshua, you and other taxpayers appear to be off the hook, with active property owners willing to pay for the lights.

Reportedly, Safeway plans to reopen at the location where it operated for close to 50 years before the Safeway-Albertsons merger. The Federal Trade Commission forced the combined company to sell 150 stores in early 2015, including the Ashland location, to avoid antitrust issues. However, the buyer of the store, Bellingham, Wash-based Haggen, was unable to handle the rapid growth and filed for Chapter 11 court protection within a few months. Albertsons then bought 33 stores, including the one on Siskiyou Blvd., out of bankruptcy.

Safeway signed off on the sale of the property April 30, 2015, with Haggen surrogate GIG TCG Wave Master Property Owner LLC, a New York-based Garrison Investment Group unit, acquiring the store for just over $4.5 million. After Albertsons said it would seek to reopen the store, Newport Beach, Calif.-based Ardell Investment Co., which owns and manages non-residential property, acquired the 23,790-square-foot store, which sits on 2.12 acres, for just under $7.3 million in May.

The 2015 property taxes were $32,758.91 for the store. Unless all the freezers and refrigerators are revved up, it's doubtful the light bill matches that figure.

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