Graphic courtesy barrientosRyan LLC: The new Safeway that will be built as part of a mixed-use commercial and residential complex on Queen Anne Avenue North will incorporate different features and ‘businesses’ to break up the storefront and make it fit in better with the neighborhood.
Graphic courtesy barrientosRyan LLC: The new Safeway that will be built as part of a mixed-use commercial and residential complex on Queen Anne Avenue North will incorporate different features and ‘businesses’ to break up the storefront and make it fit in better with the neighborhood.

Developers and architects on the Queen Anne Safeway and 21Boston housing project are moving into the next Design Review Board meeting feeling good after a positive meeting with community members last week.

The project is for a mixed-use commercial and residential complex with a seven stories and 324 apartment units, including 65 affordable units, parking for 344 vehicles and a 50,000-square-feet Safeway. The current Safeway, 2100 Queen Anne Ave. N., will be demolished.

The housing is actually broken into three separate buildings, on Boston and First Avenue, Crockett and First Avenue North and on Queen Anne Avenue, which is also where the Safeway storefront will be.

Project developer Maria Barrientos, barrientosRyan LLC, said the biggest changes to the concept from the last time the design team went in front of the Design Review Board was to the Safeway. Community members were concerned Queen Anne would end up with a single, “monolithic” storefront. At the last meeting, Design Review Board members advised architects work with Safeway’s team to break that up and present a look more in line with the neighborhood’s plan for retail, possibly with different business fronts.

With Safeway’s approval, changes were made to the deli, Starbucks, florist and pharmacy.

“This is quite a departure for them,” Brian Runberg, Runberg Architecture Group, said of the changes at last week’s meeting.

According to the plans, the Starbucks includes four new components: 1. A direct entrance off of Queen Anne Avenue so people can walk in off the street. 2. An indoor/outdoor counter and window will allow people to make purchases from the outside. 3. An indoor seating counter with windows will open directly to the sidewalk. 4. A large seating area outside with chairs and overhead protection was added.

The floral shop will also open to the sidewalk with operable windows. People will be able to buy flowers from outside at another window.

The pharmacy will have a separate entrance from the outside for people who only want to go there.

The new store will have an expanded deli with an outside entrance, a walk-up order window, an indoor/outdoor seating counter and covered seating space with tables and chairs.

In front of the deli will be a public plaza, a little more than 2,000 square feet, for everyone in the community to use. It will include seating, artwork and a children’s area.

“So we’re trying to add flexibility to the space and a certain amount of accommodation for all ages,” Runberg said.

After the meeting, Barrientos said, while it took all summer to work out the details to make such changes possible, Safeway took little convincing.

“Honestly, it wasn’t very hard,” she said, adding Safeway is rebuilding in other dense urban settings and hearing many of the same comments. “The feedback in dense neighborhoods is exactly the same.

“It’s kind of a national move,” she added.

Another detail that will make the entire area feel special is the landscaping.

“There’s a huge amount of landscaping,” Barrientos said. “It’s going to feel very lush and dense, more than any other building up there.”

To ease neighbors’ concerns, Barrientos said the team deliberately also did not propose building to the density allowed and opted to not include 100 units that were permissible.  As well, she said they worked very hard to take into consideration all the public comments made in earlier phases.

“Just being a local developer here in the city, you sort of get a sense of what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate,” Barrientos said.

If all goes well, construction on the Safeway and the housing units could start in June, and, by July of 2023 apartments, will be ready to lease.

Barrientos said a project that will bring up to 500 residents to upper Queen Anne will only benefit the neighborhood.

“I do think that even before COVID, some of the commercial spaces — retail — struggled a little because Queen Anne is not that large of a community to support as much retail that is there. ... So adding 500 residents is going to be huge to all the existing commercial spaces,” she said.