Tacoma Urbanist

Mar. 26, 2010 at 12:01am

Proctor Safeway Expansion Now Open to the Public

The long awaited Safeway expansion in Proctor is now open although construction is still underway:


Inside Safeway's New Addition:



Outside Safeway's New Addition:

Nice to see some lighted windows on more of Proctor.  This used to be a blank wall set back behind a surface level parking lot.  A great improvement to Proctor.

Check out the before and improved Safeway designs (via Exit 133).

The improved Safeway design was largely brought about by active neighbors and businesses in the North End.

Original Design:

Revised Design:

See also the complete multi view final design.

comments [36]  |  posted under Tacoma


by Erik on 3/26/2010 @ 12:13am
Historic: Earlier debate on Safeway's original proposal to place a black wall on Proctor from the Exit 133 forum archives:


Land Use decision on expansion and the granting of variances:


Safeway Discussions on Feed Tacoma:


Voelpel on original Safeway expansion plan:


by KevinFreitas on 3/26/2010 @ 7:03am
Looks like a great new addition, thanks for sharing Erik! So many great choices in this neck of the woods between two nice Safeway's and Met. Market.

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/26/2010 @ 8:00am
It's interesting to have a variety of Safeway stores around town. I walk from the Stadium District to the South 11th & M St. Safeway. If you really want to experience, and not incorrectly imagine, what it's like to shop 1960's supermarket style then try the South 11th & M St. Safeway. I swear, from decades of shopping there, that I cannot distinguish the difference between the clerks, store layout, and shoppers of any of the last five decades.

by Erik on 3/26/2010 @ 9:11am
Looks like a great new addition, thanks for sharing Erik! So many great choices in this neck of the woods between two nice Safeway's and Met. Market.

Sure. It is interesting to check out the progress of Stadium Thirftway as well which has a minor expansion.

Proctor Safeway's sitting area by their deli could change the dynamics of the neighborhood significantly for the better. They plan to have an internal Starbucks as well.

by Nick on 3/26/2010 @ 10:10am
So is that door on the side there going to be publicly accessible? As in, I could be walking on the sidewalk and enter there instead of having to cross that ocean of parking? That would be supertastimazing!

by Erik on 3/26/2010 @ 10:11am
So is that door on the side there going to be publicly accessible?

Unfortunately no.

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/26/2010 @ 11:22am
Seriously, the Hilltop Safeway is way more edgy. I'm not sayin' that it's always as funny as the "Jamie Foxx" t.v. show, but it's close.

by Nick on 3/26/2010 @ 1:16pm
... can I point out that the argument for why the hilltop Safeway has *never* been renovated is completely false? The claim was that it is because the size of the property prevented the possibility of a larger expansion.

Check out the footprint of the Proctor property versus the Hilltop property on Google maps while at the same zoom-level.

I'm excited to see my neighborhood Safeway getting some love, but am I the only one that sees a rather disappointing message from Safeway in all this?

by Nick on 3/26/2010 @ 1:17pm
Forgot to link 'em:



by Mofo from the Hood on 3/26/2010 @ 2:24pm
The immediate N. 26th & Proctor District is hardly unique in fact it's obviously working class except for the fact that the neighborhood associations are more proactive in the pursuit of national corporate commercial development.

When I pass through Hilltop I often wonder what happened with all the people who were raised in many of its grand homes---and I've seen many incredible mansions there torn down because of neglect. Hilltop needs to replace those articulate voices that once built it to a very high standard.

At that point, national commercial interests like Safeway will rebuild the Hilltop store.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/26/2010 @ 4:22pm
I guess no olive bar for us at the Hilltop Safeway.

by Erik on 3/27/2010 @ 12:56am
I'm excited to see my neighborhood Safeway getting some love, but am I the only one that sees a rather disappointing message from Safeway in all this?

There is no message Nick other than grocery stores invest where they perceive their investment will pay off.

by fredo on 3/27/2010 @ 8:41am
Safeway does put beautiful remodels into poor neighborhoods. Look at the store on So. 38th & M. So that tends to invalidate the claims that hilltop is ignored because of low income levels. But the hilltop store has 2 strikes against it. Not only is it in a low income area, it's also at a disadvantageous location. The building sits between So. 11th and 12th but not on a major cross street. Before Safeway dumps a ton of money into hilltop I'll bet they will look around for a better site.

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/27/2010 @ 9:46am
The flow level of traffic in proximity to a store is an interesting point. The North 26th & Proctor Safeway could said to be situated between the two main thoroughfares of North 30th ST and North 21st ST. These two cross-town arterials offer direct route from downtown to the Narrows Bridges.

In comparison, the Hilltop Safeway had at one time at superior traffic flow over the Proctor Safeway. South 11th ST was formerly at one-way thoroughfare that funneled traffic from the 11th ST Bridge (Murray Morgan) in a multi-lane mode from A ST to Sprague ST. On the other side of the Hilltop Safeway, South 12th, was another one-way thoroughfare that funneled multi-lane traffic from Sprague ST to A ST downtown.

Traffic engineering can make or break a commercial neighborhood.

Factors such as reduced speed limits, narrowing streets, and blocking off major arterials are evident in the decline of traffic flow through formerly successful areas of downtown and Hilltop---In this case a perhaps marginal consideration to view is the closing of the Murray Morgan Bridge and the cross-flow of traffic across the tideflats to and from Browns Point and its connection to the Narrows Bridges.

by Erik on 3/27/2010 @ 10:12am
Interesting consideration Mofo, although a ton of people drive through Hilltop daily on 11th and 12th street.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/27/2010 @ 10:33am
At least the Hilltop Safeway hasn't suffered the same fate at the former McKinley Safeway. Should you find yourself financially embarrassed and have to be on food stamps just be glad there is a Hilltop Safeway where your friends will never see you spending them.

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/27/2010 @ 12:08pm
The traffic flow past the Hilltop Safeway and past the Proctor Safeway may be close in count.

The Proctor Safeway before this recent remodel was equally utilitarian in decor to the Hilltop Safeway. I think the store sizes and product selection were close too.

A third grocery store that sits across from the Proctor Safeway, Metropolitan Market, was formerly a "Lucky" brand store, and virtually unchanged since it was built in the 1960's and up to its conversion, and it was utilitarian in design and decor similar to the Proctor and Hilltop Safeway's.

All three stores sit in immediate proximity to working class neighborhoods.

I noted earlier that neighborhood associations play a role in the maintenance and development of city districts. For decades Tacoma has benefited from neighborhood associations including specific commercial district associations. This is a proven mechanism for building strategic alliances for the purpose of documenting, maintaining and developing certain districts.

In the early 1990's the City of Tacoma Department of Economic Development expanded its involvement in harnessing new recruits to district neighborhood associations. Many of those recruits, businessmen or otherwise, were made aware of the general procedures for city stewardship.

It's been the case that the Proctor associations have continually sustained, if not increased, the districts' bargaining position for amenities.

That's a plausible explanation for the "upscale" remodels of 2 of the 3 noted stores situated in equally working-class neighborhoods. These neighborhood transitions can be traced to matters of strategic alliances and negotiation.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/27/2010 @ 12:56pm
Equally working class? I'm not seeing that. Perhaps they both could be characterized as working class but I'm not seeing the demographics stacking up to demonstrate any kind of equality. I think you can compare Hilltop to McKinley where the Safeway was shut down entirely. What works in Proctor's favor is that is it and and has been a functional neighborhood for a long time. Not much to it, it is limited, but it has functioned well as a neighborhood cross roads. Historically Hilltop functioned pretty much the same way but it suffered a great deal of neglect over the years where Proctor has not. There is a lot of upside potential for Hilltop, there is more room to grow for business there. We just may not see it in our lifetimes.

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/27/2010 @ 2:17pm
The Proctor Business Association has since the early 90's made an open effort to define and market that district as a destination. You can find traces of that in local print media and even "Sunset" magazine. I remember hearing at one point some talk about routing tour buses through the district.

But outside the district commercial parameters and beyond the Proctor Safeway, the residential area for blocks and blocks is not apparently economically better than the area beyond the Hilltop Safeway. In fact the residential area surrounding the Hilltop Safeway has more and larger single-family 2+ story homes and more concrete streets with curbs.

The Proctor Business Association since the 90's has attracted a group of people who believe in the power of marketing to control perceptions. They make use of various media, such as the "Tacoma Weekly" newspaper and printed brochures and collective cross-media advertising for district events. The district since the 90's has been pointed to as a model by personnel of the City Economic Development Department, and got a lot of positive press from City of Tacoma publications as well.

It was only around twenty years ago that the corner of North 26th & Proctor which has a Starbucks store now was once a corner 76 Union gas station. Around twenty years before that the corner had a 2-story whitewashed wooden building that housed Washburn's Grocery store, and a couple doors away in the same building Perkin's bike shop where my dad bought Schwinn bikes for my brothers and me.

I would agree that the Proctor district has been possibly the most stable center around Tacoma, but I don't think one could draw a definite line of planned leadership succession from its founding to account for the current economic condition, including the Safeway remodel.

That's why I think the Hilltop Safeway and its surrounding district, or any district, has just as much potential for success---it's a matter of people, at a definite time, forming strategic alliances and negotiating the terms for the district.

The current Proctor District, and Proctor Safeway remodel is beyond a symbolic representation of negotiable outcomes it's hard evidence of time-specific project management.

by Jesse on 3/27/2010 @ 2:35pm
Wasn't the Hilltop Safeway waiting for new zoning to build an urban safeway with apartments above it and parking below it? The apartment market isn't so hot right now is it? Maybe that's why they're waiting? Or maybe it's because zoning in Tacoma was just changed in the historical business districts and they haven't caught up to it yet. I only read half the posts so this may have been covered already?

And I agree, Hilltop has just as many beautiful houses as Proctor. Big ones too. But Proctor-ites live right next to the slope (big views=big money) and they tend to visit the paint store and nursery more than Hilltop-onians. Almost same houses in differing levels of maintenance.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/27/2010 @ 4:29pm
According to the country records there are 2 registered sex offenders living within a half mile of the Proctor Safeway. 31 living within a half mile of the Hilltop Safeway. Yeah, Proctor and Hilltop, very similar. What do you need to house so many registered sex offenders? Cheap housing and neighbors that don't put up much of a fuss. I don't think this describes the Proctor area.

by Mofo from the Hood on 3/27/2010 @ 4:34pm
The remodeled Proctor Safeway, like its remodeled neighbor Metropolitan Market, were designed as a themed destination to attract shoppers from all over town.

I've recently walked past the Metropolitan Market on a week night around 7pm and seen that nearly every parking space in the lot was filled. If you've read their food price advertisements, then you know that once in while they offer nutritious staples at competitive levels. But many items stocked are specialty imports and those items and others in general are priced a little higher.

Safeway food advertisements show prices that have significantly dropped in the past few months. That's what brought me back as a regular patron. And when you read their newspaper advertisements you know that the prices listed apply to every Safeway store in Tacoma.

But given that, it would still be hard to predict if a replica of the Proctor Safeway would equally succeed at the Hilltop Safeway location.

Overall, since the 90's the Proctor District has been a fairly successful experiment in marketing and social engineering. But also in that time span, many business ventures have come and gone. There isn't anything magical about the district.

by fredo on 3/28/2010 @ 8:11am
"There isn't anything magical about the district (Proctor)" Mofo

Well, I think that's correct. It has the potential to be magical but it's really not there yet. The neighboring Metropolitan Mkt. and remodeled Safeway will be tremendous draws to the District. And the Proctor District Assn. does a pretty good job keeping activities scheduled which would entice people such as the farmer's market, proctor treats, jr. daff parade, etc.

And Proctor has a huge advantage over districts such as So. Tacoma Way, MLK, even downtown. That advantage is it's tiny and very compact footprint. It's really only about 8 square blocks and is entirely enclosed by developed properties, mostly owner occupied middle and upper income homeowners.

Proctors drawbacks? I'll name two. The common areas aren't well maintained. The street trees are out of scale and out of control. They're in the overhead wiring, they've broken almost all the sidewalks, and the planter boxes are frequently full of rubbish, leaves, weeds. The second problem is that the neighborhood would be most attractive if it had retail at the street level. Unfortunately, about half the storefronts are offices or service businesses. There's no nightlife in the neighborhood to speak of. After 8 or 9 Proctor is a ghost town.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments Mofo.

by L.S.Erhardt on 3/28/2010 @ 11:17am
Actually, Proctor DOES have something magical about it.

Specifically, it's called a neighborhood full of people who care enough about it to make positive changes. The issues we see in other 'hoods, including Hilltop, can all be traced bact to apathy.

If you never remember anything I say, make pains to remember this:
Most of society's ills, from drug addiction to child abuse to urban decay, can all be traced back to apathy.
If you wish to live in a better world, start by caring about it and the people in it

by fredo on 3/28/2010 @ 12:15pm
Good points Thorax. And it would serve every one well if we would make pains to remember what you say.

Looking at the issue of apathy, I would suggest there is an inverse relationship between home ownership and apathy. In other words the higher the level of home ownership the less likely neighbors are to be apathetic. Homeowners have a greater vested interest, and are therefore less apathetic. When voters or politicians make home ownership more difficult by increasing property taxes, excise taxes and settlement costs they really increase the incidence of apathy. Ironic but true.

Thorax I hope you have a great weekend, be it running, cartooning, baking or campaigning against Eric Anderson.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 3/28/2010 @ 1:22pm
Earth to fredo: real estate prices have been dropping like a thing that drops very quickly when you let go of it.

by fredo on 3/28/2010 @ 9:15pm
Earth to Crenshaw: incomes have been dropping like a thing that drops very quickly when you let go of it.

by Erik on 4/2/2010 @ 3:40pm
Now covered by the News Tribune!!


by Jesse on 4/2/2010 @ 8:24pm
Have you ever been to Met Market on a Friday or Saturday night? They should call it "Meat Market". Lots of singles cruisin the isles for more than their Stove Top Stuffing.

by Erik on 6/2/2010 @ 1:16pm
Now covered by the Weekly Volcano:


by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 6/2/2010 @ 2:01pm
Is "Stove Top Stuffing" some sort of allusion to a sexual act? If that is the case make sure the pilot light is off and refrain from burritos for lunch.

by Altered Chords on 6/2/2010 @ 2:11pm
Jesse - one word: "Sandwiches"

BTW - the Safeway on 38th is no place for single to cruise. Unless you go to the liquor store 1st.

by L.S.Erhardt on 6/2/2010 @ 5:12pm
"Meat Market" eh? I may have to actually go to the Met and check that out... which sounds weird for me to say.

GRRL: "TO'T... you're looking for meat?"
ME: "Ugh, no. Gross. I'm looking for the other kind of meat"
GRRL: "What's that.... oh wait. Aaahhh. I get it."
ME: "Yup. What's your sign, baby?"

Speak of remodels, the 11th & M Safeway is nearing completion of it's remodel. I'll snap some photos next time I go to visit the Parental Units (they live near the store).

by Erik on 6/2/2010 @ 5:38pm
Speak of remodels, the 11th & M Safeway is nearing completion of it's remodel. I'll snap some photos next time I go to visit the Parental Units (they live near the store).

Very cool.

by Jesse on 6/2/2010 @ 6:51pm
It's been a while since I've been to Met Market but ya, the singles were definately cruisin'.

Stove Top Stuffing, organic stuffing, sausage stuffing, corn stuffing --- it's all the same.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 6/3/2010 @ 9:06am
I'm not sure i want to know more about this "corn stuffing" that Jesse speaks of.