Who would have thought that a mundane trip to Safeway could turn into a social event?

In an effort to create a more welcoming atmosphere, owners of the Wisconsin Avenue Safeway are planning extensive renovations to turn the current grocery store into a “Social Safeway” shopping center almost 50 percent larger.

The new establishment is envisioned as a curbside, two-level shopping complex complete with an outdoor terrace and two parking levels.

Craig Muckle, a Safeway public affairs manager, said the renovation plans are still in the developmental stages. “We are still working with the Advisory Neighborhood Committee and the District government, so the start date hasn’t been identified yet,” Muckle said.

The building would be moved curbside to make it more accessible and inviting than its current spot behind a large parking lot. It would also be turned into a two-level complex, with the lower level occupied by separate businesses and the grocery store on the top. Safeway administrators are currently unsure which businesses would occupy the downstairs level, according to Muckle.

Muckle also said the terrace would be added to give weary shoppers a place to rest. “It essentially will be like an indoor/outdoor café setup where you can purchase food, sit and overlook the store.”

The enormous parking lot will be scaled down, but according to the renovations, parking won’t become scarce: There will be two levels of parking behind and below the store. As a result, there will also be two entrances.

The Georgetown store’s redevelopment is part of Safeway’s long-term rebranding strategy announced in 2004 in which existing stores in North America will get hardwood floors, muted lighting and improved produce, delicatessen, bakery and floral sections.

The renovations specific to the Wisconsin Avenue Safeway, though, such as the shopping area and outdoor terrace, were designed to suit the Georgetown community.

“Every store is different in and of itself, but this plan is strictly for Georgetown,” he said.

The square footage of the new store would be approximately 65,000 square feet, which will be nearly 45 percent larger than the existing store.

“I definitely think it will make the shopping experience more enjoyable, and it will definitely be a way for more people to meet,” said local resident and frequent Safeway customer Elizabeth Williams. “This already is considered the `social Safeway’ in D.C., but these changes will only make it that much more social.”

The closure of the current store during construction is projected to be an issue for local customers, but Muckle said he hopes customers will remain loyal to Safeway and use its home delivery service or visit nearby grocery stores in the interim.

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