Raley's plans to build a new grocery store to replace its aging supermarket on Freeport Boulevard in South Land Park, but says it's not sure where or when it will break ground.
What is apparent is that Raley's officials were caught off-guard Wednesday when handbills were distributed to customers at its 61,000-square-foot Raley's supermarket at 4850 Freeport Blvd., a store dating to the late 1950s.
The handbills, with the name of store director Ron Konkel at the bottom, implied that plans were already in motion for a replacement store just down the street at the former Capital Nursery site, 4700 Freeport Blvd., purchased by Raley's last year.
"We would like to announce the process for plans, zoning and permits has officially begun," the flier states. "While we do not have a target completion date at this point, we are making every effort to move as quickly as the process allows."
The handbills went on to say that Raley's would make improvements to the existing store in the meantime.
Asked about the information in the handbills, Raley's spokesman John Segale issued this statement in an early afternoon email: "A decision has been made to build a new store at our Freeport site in the coming years, but we have no specific time frame or start date. Until the new store is constructed, we will improve our existing store to continue to provide our customers with the best shopping experience."
In a phone interview, Segale added that the handbill was "long on the future but short on the specifics. You might think things are happening much quicker than they will be. I know it's not going to happen Oct. 1."
Segale said planning documents have not yet been filed with the city of Sacramento, which city officials confirmed.
Asked if the new store ultimately would be built at the former Capital Nursery site, Segale said "yes," adding that the long-term future of the existing Raley's store had not yet been determined.
By midafternoon, however, Raley's pulled back from that, saying a decision has not been made whether to build the new store at the Capital Nursery site or on the site of the existing store.
The current Raley's store sits on about 4.5 acres. The former Capital Nursery property is about twice that size, at more than 9 acres. While Raley's owns the Capital Nursery land, it leases the existing store site on Freeport Boulevard. Records show that the parcel is owned by the Janice K. Gath Revocable Trust in Long Beach.
Raley's bought Capital Nursery's property on Freeport Boulevard for an undisclosed price in June last year, a move that was intended to boost the nursery's shaky finances while protecting Raley's turf from competitive grocers.
But just two months later, Capital Nursery announced that its financial struggles were too great and it would close the outlet on Freeport Boulevard.
And by the end of 2012, the other two Capital Nursery stores in Citrus Heights and Elk Grove had likewise closed their doors.
Raley's said the Capital Nursery property purchase served as a buffer against a competitor building at the site.
The West Sacramento grocer has seen scores of competitors move onto its Northern California turf in recent years, eroding its market share in a highly competitive supermarket segment.
Raley's said the nursery purchase would enable it to preserve jobs at one of its oldest and best locations.
Call The Bee's Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.