Follow the rooftops: Safeway brings prototype store to ‘under-served’ Southeast valley

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With so many people building homes and moving to the southeast corner of metro Phoenix, particularly Queen Creek, Safeway decided to go all in with its new store opening this week.

Safeway will anchor a new shopping center development called Ironwood, in Queen Creek at 40950 N. Ironwood Drive. It was developed by Brian Frakes and Common Bond Development, the team behind Sam Fox’s The Yard projects.

At 63,000 square feet, it’s larger than most Safeway stores around the Valley, said Frank Cannistra, the company’s senior vice president for retail operations. The store has 175 employees.

“This footprint is a little larger than our current Safeway format.” Cannistra said. “It’s a unique style as well. We feel it has all the elements to attract the customer from a convenience standpoint.”

The grocery chain is taking that extra space to include a full-service and drive-up pharmacy, a Starbucks counter and expanded seating area, fresh-squeezed juice section, hot food bar, salad bar, designer floral department, an expanded produce department, an expansive wine and craft beer area and a full-service sushi counter, said Cannistra.

“We felt this area is under-served by retail development,” Cannistra said. “We’ve been watching this community for a long, long time and we are excited about serving the customer there.”

Residential development has been a focus in the Queen Creek area, so there is a lot of interest from the community in the new retail center, said Jan Martin, Safeway’s senior real estate manager.

“With the lack of retail in the area, this gives consumers an option they didn’t have in the past,” Martin said.

The opening of a new prototype Safeway store marks the completion of the 120,000-square-foot Ironwood shopping center. The general contractor for the project was GCON and the architect was Suite 6.

Ironwood already has a number of tenants including Taco Bell, Happy Feet Nails, AT&T, Nitro Live Ice Cream, Kids Inc. Preschool, Smiles for Kids Dentistry and Sports Clips.

Ironwood is Common Bond’s second grocery-anchored project. The company previously developed a 57,000-square-foot Sprouts Farmers Market-anchored shopping center called The Plant in Chandler. Frakes said working with Fox Restaurant Concepts on the Yard developments influenced how he sees shopping center architecture and development.

“We want to deliver more forward-thinking, higher quality shopping centers than ones that have been developed in the past,” Frakes said. “We’ve taken a hospitality approach to our grocery-anchored shopping centers creating a sense of place and ones that have soul. These shopping centers are meant to be destinations and neighborhood gathering places for years to come.”

By Brandon Brown  – Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal

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