After a story in last week’s Outlook about the future of a prime piece of West Vancouver real estate after longtime leaseholders Safeway shutter their flagship Marine Drive grocery store on June 30, the site’s owners and operators of the rival grocery chain IGA told the newspaper Monday about its plans to fast-track the opening of their own store on the site by year’s end.
IGA-operators H.Y. Louie Group own the Safeway lot at 1650 Marine Drive and told The Outlook Monday that in an effort to soothe any inconvenience to North Shore shoppers in the interim between Safeway’s closure and the opening of an IGA or Marketplace IGA store, the company will offer free grocery delivery anywhere on the North Shore.
From Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove, shoppers at either one of the North Vancouver or West Vancouver Marketplace IGA stores can now place their grocery orders of $25 or more in-store and arrange a time for free delivery, allowing residents the freedom of shopping on lunch breaks or buying more than they could otherwise carry home. This service is in addition to the current phone-in delivery service for seniors and those with mobility problems that runs only one to two days per week.
The announcement was made to The Outlook after the closure of the Marine Drive Safeway store took many Ambleside-area shoppers by surprise and left District of West Vancouver council and planning staff scratching their heads about the future of the site as no requests for permits to build on the soon-to-be-vacant lot have been received.
New H.Y. Louie-IGA spokesman and director of marketing, Mark McCurdy, also revealed the company’s plans for the 1650 Marine Drive site in an interview with The Outlook on Monday.
“We have IGA and we have Marketplace IGA; we’re just not sure which banner we’ll put in there yet,” McCurdy said, adding that leasing the property to a competitor is off the table this time around.
“It’s kind of one of those things where we really want to make sure we get out on the right foot with the community.”
It’s a lesson McCurdy said H.Y. Louie learned last summer when the company came close to getting approval for one of two massive mixed-use development proposals for the site before both plans were rejected during public consultations over residents’ concerns about obstructed views of the waterfront.
The two options presented to District of West Vancouver council at the time both included a 41,000-square-foot underground grocery store, 16,800 square feet of ground-level retail and office space and between 144 and 154 residential units.
The only difference between the two designs was in their residential buildings, with one option proposing a 15-storey tower and the other 10 storeys.
But while those two concepts for the site were quashed indefinitely, the H.Y. Louie spokesman said the company will not give up altogether on redeveloping the site in the future to include residential and more retail space, but those plans are now years away.
“If the building and the tower had gone through, I’d imagine it’d be a two- to three-year build-out for something that massive,” McCurdy said. “So now we’re turning around and saying, ‘Okay, we’ve got to open up this store as quickly as possible for the benefit of everyone.’
“It’s a very, very, very tight time frame but we think we owe it to everybody to get a store back up and running right away,” he added.
Once Safeway closes its doors Saturday, the grocer will have until the end of July to clear out its stock and property. Then H.Y. Louie will hire a company to conduct hazardous materials testing in the building to determine the presence of potential environmental toxins like asbestos and remove them if necessary.
“That usually takes us a couple weeks,” McCurdy said; time which the company intends to spend working with West Vancouver to obtain either a development permit or a building permit for the site, depending on the scale of upgrades required.
“The structure itself will stay the same but we’re looking at changing both the exterior and the interior to bring it up from 55 years that the store’s been there,” McCurdy said, adding the exterior of the building would likely feature “natural stones and woods” while the inside would feature either IGA’s or Marketplace IGA’s “own designs and product lines.”