OAKLAND -- By early next year, customers will be able to buy a banana, a deli sandwich or a slab of steak at the new Foods Co. supermarket and drugstore in the redeveloped Foothill Square shopping center in East Oakland.
The Kroger Company, America's largest supermarket chain with sales of $90.4 billion last year, acquired several acres of the site for the Foods Co. grocery store as part of the $45 million redevelopment of a commercial mixed-use project just west of Interstate 580.
"It's going to be awesome," said City Council President Larry Reid. "It means a lot to have a real grocery store that will complement the other new retailers that are contributing to the rebirth of Foothill Square."
The center, which is located in a blighted and sometimes dangerous part of Oakland, will have on-site private security and put people back to work by creating between 450 and 500 jobs, including as many Oaklanders as possible.
"The people involved here (at the center) are committed to hiring locally from within the community," said John Jay, executive vice president with Jay-Phares Corp., which is developing the project on behalf of property owner MacArthur Boulevard Associates. Construction is expected to begin this week and wrap up in early 2013, Jay said.
Though there will be many changes and store relocations, the popular bingo hall and Academy of Hawaiian Arts will stay in the center, as will an upgraded DaVita Hemodialysis
All told, more than two dozen stores and services providers, including Ross Dress For Less, Anna's Linens, Rainbow Apparel and the East Bay's second largest Head Start parent-child center will take root at the dilapidated 50-year-old center that currently has more overgrown shrubbery and weeds than tenants.
Reid said the center, on MacArthur Boulevard at 107th Avenue, once housed a 29,000-square foot Lucky supermarket that closed about nine years ago. The new Foods Co. supermarket will be nearly 2½ times the size of the former market with 72,000 square feet of grocery and drug space, a deli, bakery, butcher and warehouse-style bulk items.
"As far as a grocery store, I'm not aware of one that is larger anywhere in the immediate area," Jay said. "There are 90,000 people (living) within two miles and 310,000 people within a 10-minute drive. We expect this will be one of the most accessible locations for people to get their goods and services."
The center was built in 1961 and included the first indoor food court west of the Mississippi, the unique open air promenade at the core of the center and a mix of tenants. Time and the economic downfall have taken their toll on the center, with its empty storefronts, rusty, towering Foothill Square sign, fading murals and dated rock wall facades.
"We think (the new center) will bring very positive change in the community," Jay said.
The redevelopment has had starts and stops over the last seven years. Albertson's had planned to move in to the center at one point, but that didn't work out, Jay said.
Nate Miley, president of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, praised Jay-Phares for seeing the project through over the last several years.
"Opening a grocery store and other shopping outlets will help bring life back to Foothill Square,'' Miley said.
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