A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Old Safeway may get new use

Written January 3rd, 2018 by Hasso Hering

This former Safeway store closed in 1999. It looked like this in May 2017.

The former Safeway supermarket in West Albany has been vacant for most of the last 18 years, and now the owners are negotiating with a potential new tenant that would put the property to a new use. It won’t, however, be a grocery store.

Signs that the property was for lease disappeared in recent days, raising hopes among passersby that something might be going on. There is, I learned from one of the owners, though exactly what he was not at liberty to say because negotiations are still going on.

The Kampfer family, which started in the meat business in Albany and once ran a string of 16 meat markets along Highway 99 from Salem to Medford, has owned the property at 635 Pacific Blvd. since the 1940s. When Safeway wanted to move from downtown, the family built the Pacific store in the 1960s and leased it to the company. In 1999, Safeway closed the Albany store and moved to 14th Avenue, but it retained its lease and kept making monthly payments until about two years ago.

I checked with Lynn Kampfer, one of the principals in the Kampfer Family Limited Partnership, based in the Harrisburg area. He told me that yes, the family had taken the property off the market and was negotiating with a prospective tenant to get a new business into the building. He expected that something would be nailed down within a month.

The building needs some work, he told me, and that will have to be done as well. And then there’s the permitting process with the city to go through.

Except for a brief period when it was a Dollar Store, the building has been vacant since the Safeway departure in 1999. Now it looks as though that long vacancy may be coming to an end. (hh)

The “for lease” sign, seen here in January 2016, is now gone.




22 responses to “Old Safeway may get new use”

  1. centrist says:

    Ahhh. Free enterprise at work. We’ll eventually see what’s cooking.
    For the short-termers — where was Safeway downtown?

  2. Oscar Hult says:

    The Downtown Safeway was torn down to build the current City Hall.

  3. John Hartman says:

    What lies behind Hasso’s seemingly breezy dismissal wherein he writes, “When Safeway wanted to move from downtown, the family built the Pacific store in the 1960s and leased it to the company. In 1999, Safeway closed the Albany store and moved to 14th Avenue, but it retained its lease and kept making monthly payments until about two years ago.”

    The glossing over is, what motivated Safeway to continue paying rent from 1999 until “…about two years ago.” And why did Safeway feel free to discontinue payments?

    Glossing over is perhaps too harsh. More likely, there is a juicy story behind the initial statements. Mr. Hering is a one-man band, riding a bike. We applaud Hasso’s efforts. We wish more could be done.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      The short answer is to prevent added competition in the supermarket field. As I understand it, Safeway negotiated an end to the lease when it was involved in a corporate maneuver with Albertsons and another supermarket chain about two years ago. (hh)

      • HowlingCicada says:

        Wondered what you meant by “maneuver,” searched for “albertsons albany oregon” (without the quotes), found a Safeway store locator on albertsons.com, so I guess they’ve merged.

        Also found a D-H article from 2014-01-13, chopped quotes: “””The Albany Albertsons grocery store, 1177 Waverly Drive S.E., will close on Feb. 20, […] store was unprofitable. “We were just not able to impede the market place and move sales.” “”” Also, the Corvallis store closed in 2012.

        No kidding, unprofitable. In Corvallis, Albertsons was just a couple blocks from Winco. Their prices were even higher than Safeway’s. They played awful country music. It was almost empty all the time. I just didn’t feel like signing-up for their whatever-card to get better deals on a very few useful sale items, though I miss their pharmacy. I have no use for Safeway (3 Corvallis stores), either.

  4. Tim Siddiqui says:

    The place looks just right for a bowling alley and big arcade combination.

    • John Hartman says:

      I suggested a hip mortuary, one using ecologically sound Swedish burial practices as a tenant, but Hasso censored my post.

    • John Hartman says:

      Maybe a liquor store too!

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Bowling alley and arcade is perfect – already looks like one. No need to disguise the retro-midcentury look for a midcentury activity. Then you could take that huge parking lot and do something useful with it.

      From aerial photo it looks like 126 marked spaces + the blank south corner + more space in the back not needed to maneuver large trucks = maybe 140 spaces, which doesn’t seem like that many after all. Oh well, obsolete midcentury transportation.

  5. Kim Sass says:

    One more interesting note on Kampfer history: Marie Kampfer (Lynn’s mother) was the first female on a hospital board in Oregon that was not a nun. She was asked by Marge Sexton, the hospital superintendent, to join the board after World War II. Mrs. Kampfer and her husband were solid supporters of Albany and Albany’s community hospital.

  6. Jerry Boydston says:

    These days every time I see the old store I think of the “Flying Nun”!
    But when I lived down the block we shopped there regularly. It sure would be nice to have a grocery store on the west side..

  7. Florence Allen says:

    I thought the downtown City Hall was built where the Elks building was?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Safeway opened a new storefront in 1941 on the east side of Broadalbin Street between Third and Fourth avenues. This is on the block that now is occupied by City Hall. (The Elks lodge — either then or later — was on the same block, facing Fourth Avenue.) Before 1941, Safeway had operated on the northwest corner of Second and Ellsworth. Both Safeway locations are shown (pages 33 and 72) in “Remembering When, Volume V” by the late Robert Potts. (hh)

  8. Dianne Cunningham says:

    When we moved to town in 1971, I remember Safeway ,at that time, was located in the building currently occupied by Big 5.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      It’s funny the tricks that memory can play. Actually, according to county records, the Safeway at 635 Pacific Blvd. S.E. was built in 1966. (hh)

      • David Ballard says:

        Memory tricks perhaps, but I also remember a Safeway store next to the Pay-N-Pak which is where Big 5 and St. Vinny’s is today. Safeway operated two stores simultaneously in Albany for a few years, apparently.

  9. Richard Vannice says:

    The “downtown Safeway” was indeed on the east side of Broadway with the north side adjacent to 3rd. There was an alley on the south side and the old Elks lodge building was between this alley and 4th. The Elks owned the entire one half block facing on 4th, the east half of the block was their parking lot.

  10. Judy Gilchrist Hensley says:

    In the mid 50’s, while still in school at OSU, my husband Taft
    bagged groceries at Kampfer’s grocery on super highway
    99E. A few souls felt generous and they would tip him $.10 when
    he bagged and carry the groceries to the car‼️
    Do you remember the Red Hat Restaurant⁉️

  11. Gothic Albany says:

    This is one of the best preserved examples of “Marina With Wings” MCM Safeway Architecture left in the state.

    We’re famous:

  12. Nommel says:

    Four guesses:
    1. Healthcare related
    2. Calvary Chapel type church (Demographics near high school)
    3. Move for ReStore or Teen Challenge
    4. Post Office move

  13. Lise Grato says:

    I love the look of the iconic Safeway buildings. The style was distinguishing and inviting. It’s fun to see the few that are left here and there. I also love driving past the tiny, vintage McDonald’s on Powell in Portland. It still has the original golden arches and sits in the parking lot of a modern location.


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