A generation after pulling out of downtown Sacramento, Raley’s supermarket officials say they are looking to return to the city core with a new style of store fit for urban dwellers.
A spokeswoman for the West Sacramento-based chain said the company is exploring several sites downtown for a smaller-format, farmer’s market style store that would appeal to residents who live in a denser and more pedestrian-oriented environment.
One rumored potential site is the former Greyhound station at 7th and L streets, a few paces from the new Kings arena now under construction. The owner and developer of the Greyhound building, Danny Benvenuti, said he is in talks with potential tenants, but declined to say who he is talking with.
Raley’s spokeswoman Chelsea Minor declined comment on specific sites, but said the company has been monitoring development downtown and feels it is time to jump in.
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“Raley’s is looking at new ways to expand and grow in the Sacramento market,” Minor said. “We feel like there is a lot of excitement around new development downtown. We are exploring various options downtown. We are excited to be part of it.”
Minor said Raley’s likely will design a new type of store that appeals to health- and local-product-conscious consumers. “We are sensitive to the fact that the demands of customers are changing,” she said.
Minor said it may take up to two years for a Raley’s store to open downtown. Raley’s operated a supermarket in midtown Sacramento until the 1980s.
Raley’s downtown move would mirror several other proposed or current urban-style markets in Sacramento, and follows a national trend toward more city-center markets as more large-city downtowns are repopulated with residents.
Safeway opened a new store at 19th and S streets in midtown in 2004. The Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op is building a new store at 28th and S streets, set to open next summer. Also, a local developer is planning a Whole Foods grocery store, residential units and a parking structure at 21st and L streets.
But Raley’s would be the first major grocery chain to come back into the heart of downtown, where city officials say they are pushing for development that will attract thousands of new residents.
The Raley’s company operates 137 stores in Northern California, most of them under the Raley’s, Bel Air, Nob Hill Foods and Food Source banners.
Downtown City Councilman Steve Hansen, an advocate for more housing in the central city, said he thinks Raley’s interest stems from decisions the City Council has made to reinvigorate downtown, including approving the downtown arena, helping finance housing on the 700 block of K Street, and, this week, approving Sacramento Commons, a controversial high- and midrise housing proposal bounded by Fifth, Seventh, N and P streets.
“I look forward to working with Raley’s to make them a valuable part of the downtown community,” he said.