By Alexa Epitropoulos | [email protected]
Wegmans Food Markets plans to open an 84,000-square-foot grocery store in the Hoffman Town Center in Alexandria’s Carlyle neighborhood, project developer StonebridgeCarras announced in a news release Tuesday.
The popular Rochester, New York-based chain will anchor StonebridgeCarras’ mixed-use project at Hoffman Center, which spans one million square feet. It has dedicated a total of 210,000 of that square footage to retail and 775,000 square feet to residential, including condos and apartments.
Wegmans will occupy a second story space of StonebridgeCarras’ project, opening the street level to multiple retailers, according to a press release from the developer.
“When we first identified the potential of this site, we felt it was the opportunity to bring the best regional retailer to the site given its proximity to employment, housing, metro and the tremendous access to the Capital Beltway,” StonebridgeCarras Principal Douglas Firstenberg said in a release. “Landing Wegmans is perfect for the area and their willingness to locate their store on the second floor will make the street environment perfect.”
Although Wegmans already has a location in the Fairfax County area of Alexandria at 7905 Hilltop Village Center Drive, Hoffman Town Center would be the grocery store’s first location within the City of Alexandria.
Valerie Fox, spokesperson for Wegmans, said the Hoffman Town Center location fit everything the grocery store chain typically looks for.
“We only open three to four stores each year and, as such, we’re very selective about choosing our sites. We’re choosy,” Fox said. “Some of the things we look at for a site is a space that’s large enough to accommodate the size of our store and parking that can serve customers in the area that immediately surrounds our store and employees. We’re also a destination, so we’re always looking for great regional locations, especially locations that are easy to get in and out of. This location met everything we were looking for.”
This Wegmans location is on the smaller side of the footprint spectrum for the grocery chain, which has stores that span 140,000 square feet and employ up to 550 people. This will also be the first Wegmans that will be located entirely on a building’s second floor. It’s not unusual for the grocery store to change up its store formats, though.
“We have various store formats,” Fox said. “We have stores that have mezzanine [level cafe seating areas where patrons can eat our] restaurant-quality prepared foods. We have a store in Columbia, Maryland that has an above ground two-level parking lot … This store is a smaller format for us, but I want to emphasize that it is a full-size grocery store,” Fox said. “We have smaller size locations in Rochester [New York] and in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts… We’ve learned we can really offer the same level of incredible customer service in a smaller footprint.”
Fox said it’s too early to say how many employees the Hoffman Town Center location will hire.
The most recently announced Wegmans location reflects a pattern of investment in Northern Virginia for the grocery store. Wegmans’ store in the Fairfax County area of Alexandria opened in June 2015 and another store will open in Chantilly, Virginia in western Fairfax County in mid-2018. The grocery chain currently has 95 locations across six states, with 10 of those in Virginia.
The developer plans to break ground on the mixed-use project in early 2019, with intentions of opening the first components of the project in the fall of 2021.
The news of Wegmans moving into Carlyle comes on the heels of the National Science Foundation’s opening last week.
Stephanie Landrum, CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said the Wegmans announcement will have a ripple effect in Carlyle.
“Wegmans is a great addition to the city and specifically to that part of town because it will really act as an anchor – not just for the people who live and work there, but it will also be a huge help in attracting more retail to that area,” Landrum said. “Many smaller retailers and restaurants like to be proximate to a big anchor like that. Grocery stores are places people go to multiple times a week. Small retailers like to be close to big uses like that because it’s a huge generator,” Landrum said.
She said the combination of the National Science Foundation making their move official and the grocery store chain announcing plans means good things for the neighborhood.
“We did the planned opening [at National Science Foundation] last week and a lot of the questions we got from staff was ‘what’s coming next?’” Landrum said. “To be able to know there was a big announcement they would be excited about was great, especially since it is the first in the wave of announcements … we’ll be making over the next few months and it’s part of the realization of building a new community around Eisenhower Metro.”