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The old Safeway building, shown in an October 2015 file photo. Safeway closed down its 31,000-square-foot store on Pacific Boulevard in 1999, when the business moved to a new location near Heritage Mall. The building has been mostly vacant since then.

Eugene Johnson, Democrat-Herald

Janet Steele, president of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, toured the Physiq Fitness center after its ribbon-cutting ceremony last week and liked what she saw.

“It is a beautiful facility inside with all the workout rooms,” Steele said.

She also was happy that the 32,000-square-foot former Albertson’s site was back in business — and drawing traffic for other nearby stores and restaurants. Physiq’s opening came nearly four years after the supermarket closed in February 2014.

Albertson’s had operated there for 32 years before shutting its doors.

Steele thinks that with this robust economy, other large and vacant grocery store sites in Albany have a shot at drawing in new tenants.

“We’re in an environment right now where retail, commercial and even industrial property is at a premium,” she added.

Residents apparently won’t have to wait much longer for a new grocery store in the site of the former Ray’s in the North Albany Village shopping center.

Albany building officials expect the new business to open sometime in the spring, said Marilyn Smith, city spokeswoman.

“There are people over there working all the time,” she added.

The Myers Group of Clinton, Washington, which is developing the store, did not respond to requests for comment. In an interview last year, the owner of the company said he hoped the facility would open Jan. 1 and that it could employ 100 people.

Plans show that the North Albany grocery store will include a liquor store and an Ace Hardware store.

Ray’s shut down in January 2014, after its parent company filed for bankruptcy. The lack of a grocery store had become a source of frustration for many North Albany residents.

Smith said that a local nonprofit was considering expanding at the old Safeway site on Pacific Boulevard, among other potential locations.

Safeway closed the location in 1999, when the business moved to a new location near Heritage Mall, and the building has been mostly vacant since then. The structure was constructed in 1966.

The most recent grocery store to close in Albany was Mega Foods, 2000 Queen Ave. SE, which shut down after 18 years in business in September. The family that owns Mega Foods said that the new Albany WinCo store, which opened in July, was a factor in their decision.

Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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Business Reporter

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