The Montgomery County Planning Board approved the preliminary plan for an 18 story Safeway and apartment complex in downtown Wheaton, paving the way for construction to start by spring 2011.

The project slated for the 2 acre site at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Reedie Drive will include Safeway on the first floor, an underground parking garage and a 500 unit apartment complex above the store.

County planners and commissioners agreed that the Safeway project is key to revitalizing downtown Wheaton.  I couldn’t agree more.  This project will not only bring life to the downtown area, I think it will spur movement on additional projects that have been planned for Wheaton.

The developers will bring the finalized plans to the Planning Board within the next three months and hopefully will begin construction by the spring of 2011.

The Safeway in Wheaton at Georgia Avenue and Reedie Drive has closed for redevelopment.  The store originally opened in 1951.  See the ad announcing the store opening from the Washington Post on July 10, 1951.

The original plans were for Safeway to move as part of the development of the mixed-use Avalon at Wheaton community at the corner of Blueridge and Georgia Avenue.

That was before Safeway began working with developer Patriot Realty.  Now, the Wheaton Safeway, a joint venture between Patriot and Safeway, will more than double its 23,000 s.f. store while remaining at the same 11201 Georgia Avenue spot and will include 57,500 s.f. of retail, 140 underground parking spaces for Safeway customers, upwards of 500 apartment units on top of that, and additional 411 residential parking spaces. The Wheaton store will resemble DC’s 14-story City Vista Safeway at 5th & K Streets NW.

The group is looking for approvals as soon as possible for their Safeway project and would like to be under construction within the next 18 months.  We can hope that approval comes quickly so we don’t have to look at the current site any longer than necessary.