Albertsons on Bluff Street closes, aging shopping center takes another hit

Shopping center at the corner of 700 South and Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2013 | Photo by Alexa Verdugo Morgan, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Located in the shopping center on the corner of 700 South and Bluff Street that also houses Kmart, Christensen’s, Radio Shack and 1st Survival Gear, Albertsons opened its doors in St. George 29 years ago. Mainly due to its prime location along one of the city’s main arteries, it was a preferred community store, while attracting customers to neighboring businesses.

Shopping center at the corner of 700 South and Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2013 | Photo by Alexa Verdugo Morgan, St. George News
Shopping center at the corner of 700 South and Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2013 | Photo by Alexa Verdugo Morgan, St. George News

But with new shopping centers springing up across the St. George area in the years since and a highly competitive marketplace of grocers, including Lin’s, Smith’s and Harmons, the company has been forced to send its oldest local store into retirement. It is slated to close the first week of August.

“This store has not been profitable and, despite the best efforts of the company and our associates, we have not been able to reposition it to better compete in the marketplace,” said Dennis McCoy, Albertsons communications and public affairs manager. “For that reason, the company has decided not to renew the lease at this location, which is ending soon.”

“This closure isn’t surprising,” said Tom Callister, director of the Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Real Estate Solutions St. George office. “Their competition is doing well and they’re not.”

Albertsons will continue regular operations at its other two local stores, located at 745 North Dixie Drive in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Drive in Washington City. Much of the Bluff Street store‘s staff will be transplanted to those stores in an effort to minimize the closure‘s impact on the area workforce.

Albertsons’ primary commitment is to take care of our associates and make this transition as smooth as we can from start to finish,” McCoy said. “We are working diligently with our associates on a one-on-one basis to place them in nearby Albertsons stores (and) we anticipate being able to place nearly all associates at alternate stores. In the event that an associate cannot be placed, Albertsons will provide severance to impacted associates, providing they are eligible under company policies.”

“We are saddened when any reputable business closes its doors,” St. George Mayor Dan McArthur said. “I have shopped at Albertsons for many years. I wish the best for their employees and hope that this will not negatively affect our community.”

According to records from the Washington County Assessor’s Office, the current market value of the Albertsons property is $1,573,000. The entire shopping center, in which 15 businesses operate, has an assessed market value of $11,463,800.

The age of the shopping center (built between 1983 and 1987), loss of one anchor store and upcoming closure of another has led to speculation within the business community that the entire property may eventually see other tenants vacate.

“One of the struggles retailers in Southern Utah face is geographic location,” said Travis Parry, director of the Cushman & Wakefield | Commercial Real Estate Solutions St. George office. “This store is convenient for people who live close to it, but there aren’t enough residential neighborhoods in the area. The complex overall has little traffic.”

“Albertsons closing will reduce foot traffic in the mall. They were a good draw to our shopping center, and we don’t want to see them go,” said Jeff Mahoney, manager of Christensen’s department store.

We know the economy has played a part in the decisions everyone is having to make, but we are hoping the landlord will soon fill the empty spots,” said Marcia Moss, owner of Dandylion Wishes. “We all hope to weather this bump in the road.”

Mahoney and Moss agreed that losing Albertsons will almost certainly have a negative effect on every store in the shopping center, though whether that effect will be minor or significant remains to be seen. In the near future, both said they will focus on moving forward with business operations as usual and have no plans to relocate.

“Everyone I’ve talked to seems to be doing okay as far as business stability right now,” Mahoney said. “But we’re always encouraging the landlord to fill all available spots.”

Albertsons, along with Dandylion Wishes, Christensen’s, Kmart, U.S. Bank, Deseret Book/Mormon Handicraft, the now vacant former location of Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, and several other businesses in the shopping center, is owned and managed by Martin Gaspare Property Management/Gaspare Trust of San Diego, Calif. Neither Gaspare nor representatives of the company responded to requests for comment and inquiries as to plans for the center and the vacated spaces.

Shopping center at the corner of 700 South and Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2013 | Photo by Alexa Verdugo Morgan, St. George News
Shopping center at the corner of 700 South and Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2013 | Photo by Alexa Verdugo Morgan, St. George News

“It’s going to be a struggle to bring in new tenants. That center is a little on the weak side,” Callister said. “They need a tenant that’s a destination retailer, not one of convenience like a grocery or discount store. I haven’t seen Kmart’s numbers, but I can’t imagine they’re doing well either.”

The news of Albertsons’ closing comes almost exactly one year after Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts relocated its store in the shopping center to another mall in Washington City in July 2012. The loss of Jo-Ann, part of a nationwide chain and considered an anchor business in the shopping center, came as a blow to neighboring stores.

None felt that blow more strongly than Dandylion Wishes, a locally owned and operated small business specializing in craft supplies. The store opened in April 2011 and received a boost in clientele growth from a mutually beneficial relationship with Jo-Ann, but have been hurt since.

“Jo-Ann leaving had a definite negative impact on our business because we draw the same type of client,” Moss said. “We miss them. We are very sad that Albertsons is leaving and we are hoping that the shopping center will continue to draw the support from the area, because we still have a lot to offer.”

Email: avmorgan@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

Shopping center at the corner of 700 South and Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2013 | Photo by Alexa Verdugo Morgan, St. George News
Shopping center at the corner of 700 South and Bluff Street, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2013 | Photo by Alexa Verdugo Morgan, St. George News

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22 Comments

  • Big Bob July 12, 2013 at 3:35 am

    I’m surprised that little store with a box of cereal being over 6 bucks stayed open this long! I think the only hope for that strip mall is to open an attraction there, whether it be a family fun center or a Chuck E. Cheese, which would attract many families.

    • D.Davis July 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      I agree…Albertsons is way too expensive

  • BrooksideGirl July 12, 2013 at 5:34 am

    Bringing in a SPROUTS MARKET or a TRADER JOE’S – would turn that mall around in a heart-beat. Also – BEAUTY BRANDS would be a great addition to our community as well.

    Let’s all email these companies and ask them to come to St. George!

    • D.Davis July 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      You got that right

      • Tyler July 12, 2013 at 11:28 pm

        I emailed Chuck E. Cheese to look into this area with its large families and focus on family orientation. It would be a gold mine as Pirate Cove Pizza sucks.

  • Stephanie July 12, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I think the problem is that the space is just a little run down, it may not be attractive to future businesses.

    But I would imagine St. George would do well with a Chuck E. Cheeses or something like that Fiesta Fun is looking pretty run down these days.

    I would LOVE a Trader Joe’s there. But unfortunately I can’t imagine them ever expanding into to Utah because of the crazy liquor laws. Trader Joe’s features a very large liquor section in all their stores and that is a huge part of their income.

    • Indy July 12, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Agreed, we need something else. Fiesta fun is looking pretty ghetto lol but seriously the play center in there is dangerous looking now

    • DB July 12, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      Actually, Trader Joe’s recently opened their first Utah store (no liquor) in the SLC area. Don’t know how it’s doing. I always stop at TJ’s when passing through Vegas!

      • Tyler July 12, 2013 at 11:22 pm

        I heard rumors that Trader Joe’s was actually looking at coming to STG

  • Langer July 12, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Although I am saddened at the thought of the store closing and employee’s being displaced or let go, I am relieved at the thought that Dixie Middle School kids might think twice about leaving campus for lunch. It might just push them future across Bluff Street to other business’ but going that much further might help them realize they could pack a lunch or eat on campus like they should.

    • DB July 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      Unfortunately, they already cross Bluff St to get to the Jimmy John’s sub shop.

  • Coffeelarge July 12, 2013 at 9:13 am

    That Albertson’s does not appear to have been maintained in the 29 years it was open! That is probably why people did not shop there. The lighting was horrible and the entire store terribly needed remodeling!

  • Kay July 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Having 2 Walmart Superstores in Washington County might have something to do with several chains going out of business. Today the food retailer, Kroger just bought out Harris Teeter a 2.5 billion dollar merger, making them the largest supermarket in the nation. This continues to be the case with so many corporations trying to squeeze out all mom n’ pop retailers in order to monopolize the market. How do you stop this from happening? You can’t.

    It’s difficult to avoid spending money at discount stores like Walmart when wages are so low in this area and I for one admit I frequent Walmart. Once they allow full service banking in Utah I will bank with Walmart too as I can’t afford to be stupid with my money. Watch out local banks!

    It’s really sad to see Albertson close their doors due to poor manangement vs. any wrong doing on the part of employeees. Dixie does need a shot in the arm and unfortunately it will be another big box retailer who wants to dominant the market place too. Let’s hope we bring in a company who takes care of their employees and provides a living wage (thank you Costco).

    • Gary July 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      I believe there are 3 Walmart Superstores in the county unless you don’t count Hurricane in Washington County.

    • D.Davis July 12, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      3 Walmarts are excess…Let’s see a Sam’s Club…Yes, I know, they are the same parent company. Would love to see another Harmons(in Hurricane or Washington)

      • My Evil Twin July 13, 2013 at 10:42 am

        Well it would be, possibly, if the Hurricane Walmart was not such a sorry joke for a store. I know many Hurricane residents who drive right by it and shop at the Washington store, because the Hurricane Walmart can’t keep their shelves stocked.

  • Desert Rat July 12, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Walmart remains the cheapest place for food in the area. I’d like to see some competition to area Walmart stores

  • Alan July 13, 2013 at 9:07 am

    I think Winco foods would give Walmart a run for the money. If you have been there you know why.

  • concerned July 13, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Why do people continue to support a company like Walmart?

    Why would any business want to come into a beat up old shopping center. The owner needs to do some updating.

    What St. George needs is a Sprouts not a Trader Joes. TJ is more of a trend than it is good food or selection. They do have some good things though it would be nice to have TJ and Sprouts. The problem is this area loves their fast food and their crappy food chains. I’m not sure we have enough people who know how to wat well enough to support a good grocery store. All people here want is cheap which is what they get at Walmart. You get what you pay for though folks cheap crap and terrible wages for those who work there.

    Finally Chuck Cheeses are you for real? We already have enough white trash resturaunts in St. George. We don’t need a place where the pizza tastes like cardboard. St. George needs to start supporting small local restuarnts with good food instead of these large chains that serve all this nastyness. Coming from CA after being there for about 12 years St George reminds me much of the Midwest with all the crap places we have to eat here. We have few decent places but many places need to learn how to make food taste good before they open a restaurant. We have to go to Vegas just to get a good meal occasionally without having to go to the same few places all the time. Some of those places that struggle because they serve real food and are not a cheap buffet. Come on people let’s not be such an embarrassment to ourselves here. Have some respect for yourself and feed yourself some real food. Look at the constant lines around here for fast food and swig. Do you really need more sugar in your soda? OK enough for today. Clean up St George and give these areas an upgrade so we can get some decent retailers in here.

  • COSTCO July 13, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Anyone who supports walmart over Costco is either ignorant or foolish!
    COSTCO! COSTCO! COSTCO!

  • Sharrona April 6, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Albertson’s leaving is an opening for Trader Joes..Salt Lake Trader Joes has huge traffic to that store, no wine……It would be great to have a store with their quality.
    We go to Trader Joe every time we go to Vegas..
    Another Idea…a new stadium movie house…St. George sucks for movie viewing.
    We also go to Vegas for movies…

  • Mary June 3, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I would LOVE to see a Trader Joe’s here in S.G. We always stop at the Vegas store, too, but have to limit what we get due to lack of refrigeration on our trip home. I think TJ would do fine without its liquor, just as Cosco manages to do well without liquor.

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