Proposed Redesign Of 13th Avenue Safeway Would Bring A Whiff Of The Suburbs To The Cathedral

Adding to the annals of proposed redesigns scheduled to be put forth for “public consultation” is this proposed redesign of the 13th Ave Safeway (sorry the picture is so small).

The current building, as is plainly evident to anyone who beholds it, is a gleaming Modernist gem of a structure with a gently arced roof and expansive windows that let in the loveliest Northern light.

Personally, I don’t think the proposed new design fits in with the neighbourhood, and the scale is totally off. It looks like something one might find in Harbor Landing or the east end of the city, but not something that would integrate well – certainly not aesthetically – in the Cathedral neighbourhood.

There have been murmurs about the need for an expansion of the current building, so why don’t they just do that? This redesign requires that the back end be extended, and properties currently behind the store would be purchased for that purpose. If they really need to expand (which is debatable), a simple extension at the rear would probably solve any problems the store currently has. And who’s complaining, anyway? The only complaints I’ve ever heard about that store is that they don’t offer stuff that meets the needs of the market in that neighbourhood. The building isn’t the problem.

Maybe it’s just me. What do you think? There will be an Open House on Tuesday August 9th from 4:30 to 8pm at the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre where plans will be on view to the public and, apparently, there will be an opportunity to give your feedback.

Here’s a link to the City of Regina website where you can get a load of the plans.

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45 thoughts on “Proposed Redesign Of 13th Avenue Safeway Would Bring A Whiff Of The Suburbs To The Cathedral”

  1. I’d be quite sad to see the Bob Boyer mural torn down. The building seems to be in fine shape, I don’t see why they couldn’t just do an extension.

  2. Agreed. While I am totally in support of expansion, I would hate to see the lovely facade and the Bob Boyer mural along Robinson go. In Saskatoon, the Safeway on 33rd was renovated (and I believe expanded) without damaging the original aesthetic of the building, and it looks just like the one in Cathedral, only bigger. That’s what I want. That, and please carry kale.

  3. Also: when Blair and I got this notice in the mail yesterday we said “someone get Vanda on this!”

  4. I totally forgot about the Boy Boyer mural (sorry, I’m not from here). Well, that’s that. It stays!

    There’s a well documented current trend in architecture that incorporates preservation into its design. It’d be a crying shame if Regina let this opportunity pass it by.

    As it happens, the Modernist grocery store in the neighbourhood where I grew up (and where my parents still happily shop) was nominated for heritage status in 2009. It’s a Metro now, but it was a Dominion before that, and a Miracle Mart previous to that, but when I was first met it, it was a Steinberg’s (my family still calls it Steinberg’s). Here’s a picture.

  5. That’s god awful. How could anyone with eyesight think about turning that lovely arch with its wall of windows into a bunker?

    Safeway has just plonked its suburban mall design down onto 13th Avenue with no consideration of scale, or I would argue, aesthetics.

    And in the process they are proposing to destroy a mural by one of Saskatchewan’s most important artists.

    If we take the charitable approach, Safeway did this out of ignorance. They need to hear from people that the design needs to be re-worked.

  6. I do think the current store needs to expand. It’s pretty small and quite cramped. I don’t shop there regularly, but I rarely even shop there incidentally because it’s just so uncomfortable.

    However, particularly after contrasting the proposed store with the picture that Blair posted, I’m definitely in agreement that the new store should retain the old store’s aesthetic.

  7. I couldn’t help but notice that the new building appears to be plunked into a park. Check out the surroundings on the left- and right-hand sides of the drawing: it’s all trees, not houses like it should be. Yet another visual marketing trick to make the proposed design seem more attractive.

    This store could use a facelift and expansion, but they should get inventive and make it fit into the character of the neighbourhood.

    And toss the Starbucks – make it a Roca Jack’s instead.

  8. Unnecessary. Why is Regina always on the cutting edge of bland suburban redesigns? Saskatoon has old McDonald’s and old Dairy Queen braziers and they’re great looking. We always have to be SO “with it” in the corporate fast-food chain sense of the word.

  9. I was surprised they wanted to expand it at all. Honestly, it never struck me as too small. Sure, it could be a bit bigger, but that won’t mean much to me unless they start stocking better stuff. I’ve often thought it was strange that the North Gate Safeway had vastly better stock than the 13th Ave location. It’s like they don’t research their market. Personally, I’d be happy if they just stocked better cheeses/dairy and produce, and sorted out their bakery.

  10. I’ve never thought that Safeway was too small. Consider the IGA (Sobey’s?) in the Hillsdale area. It’s a really small store, but they pack it with lots of product (they did before they changed to the “gourmet” thing, anyway–I haven’t been in there in a while). The idea that we need to have mile-high ceilings and hummer-size carts is silly.

    It wasn’t totally clear from the link, but does Safeway own the other buildings along that strip, that now house a bank, laundromat, hair salon, and bagel shop? Is the idea to get rid of those, and four residential spaces in exchange for this giant, tacky thing? Oh well, as long as it has a Starbucks, right?

  11. They’ve already dropped over a million on it if this line is true:
    “the applicant has acquired four residential lots to the south of the existing store”.
    The proposed structure is being built around the Bank of Nova Scotia which will remain intact- so the former Tastee Freez will survive in a way.

    This style of store ( called the Marina after the first of its kind in San Francisco) is both honored and (in original form) threatened:
    The architecture of the Marina Safeway is of note to many supermarket enthusiasts. This Marina design features an all-glass front and a soaring, curved roof. This open and spacious design allows natural sunlight into the stores. Safeway used this design on stores throughout the ’60s, however many of them were demolished to build larger box-like supermarkets. Others had their signature front windows covered with a false facade such as the Market Street location. Only a small number of classic Marina-style stores survive to this day.

    The remodel format proposed here is called the “Lifestyle”.

  12. The editor agrees that Safeway needs to expand but the architecture is an ugly, bland nightmare. Regina should have a city architecture commission to block horrible buildings like this. Just ugly, ugly, ugly. Frankly it’s so ugly it’s offensive.

    But yes, the Safeway absolutely needs to expand.

  13. And another thing…

    For more bygone Safeway architecture, the “W” roofs on both the Sherwood and south Albert St. stores are still visible around the back, and the former Broad St. Safeway (best viewed from Osler and 12th) has some interesting masonry.

  14. I nearly threw up a bit in my mouth when I saw this design. It is so out of step with this entire neighbourhood and given examples of where this style of store has been expanded and kept its character I see no reason it can’t happen here, aside from the will to do it.

    Please contact the project planner: Don Meikle

    And fill out and submit this short form expressing the thoughts and sentiments you have here:

    This really would change the entire feel of the neighbourhood, in an unfortunate way.

  15. I have murky memories of the Grant Road Whitmore Park Safeway–it was always so dark and green in there, but some lovely details long since lost in modern grocery stores, like the bumper-style produce stands. That place was odd. I never saw the Hamilton Street not Broad Street Safeways. Then there was Dominion–I think Regina groceterias lost their innocence when that Tunisian exchange student heard the devil and stabbed that Broadway Street clerk in the head in 1988.

  16. Okay, so the sense I’m getting from people is that this design is offensive to all concerned. That’s great! Let’s do something about it. This is a significant piece of architecture that effects the day-to-day experience many of us have of that neighbourhood. If this upcoming public consultation is truly a consultation, they should listen to the concerns of the public, and lucky for us, there are a large number of people living in that neighbourhood who are wont to complain about bad architecture. This should be a cinch, right?

    This plan actually has me less worried than the proposed plan for the library, which seems like it’s being taken completely out of the public’s hands.
    But who knows. Not me.

  17. If you check out the aerial view on the City’s website, the plan also calls for the expansion to move south and get rid of 4 houses, 2 on Robinson and 2 on Retallack.

    Safeway is considering “relocating” the houses rather than demolishing them. But whatever they do with the houses, they won’t be in the Cathedral area any more.

    This redevelopment is totally out of scale with the neighbourhood and it needs to be stopped.

  18. halle-friggen-luja. Its about time. I realize I’m not a 20-something hipster but I’m happy I’ll have a less cramped and cleaner looking grocery store 2 blocks away from my place. It’ll save me from getting in my car and driving across town for better selection. Also when the heck did homogenous neighborhoods for the inner city become fashionable? The same argument of “keeping with character” is exactly the same criticisms of the sprawling suburbs. I like the juxtaposition of old and new and different styles. That is what gives an area character.

  19. Well Rob J, I can’t speak for the other contributors to this discussion but I haven’t been “a 20-something hipster” for a couple of decades.

    Your comments “when the heck did homogenous neighborhoods for the inner city become fashionable? The same argument of ‘keeping with character’ is exactly the same criticisms of the sprawling suburbs” is very confusing.

    The proposed plan will in fact contribute to the homogenization of Regina, 13th Ave Safeway will now look exactly like Southland Safeway and Northgate Mall Safeway.

    Maintaining the specific character of the Cathedral (low rise, scaled to a pedestrian friendly street, mixed use residential/commercial, mixture of building styles and periods), is exactly the opposite of the approach taken in our sprawling suburbs.

    As for the mixture of old and new styles that you sing the praises of – well right now it’s working very well along 13th Avenue with the 60s era Safeway sitting amidst houses several decades earlier, and across the street from a retail row from the 30s and the Community Centre from a couple decades ago. There’s nothing wrong with new; there is something wrong with this specific plan.

    I’m glad you won’t have to get in your car to seek better grocery options but there is a way for Safeway to expand what it offers in the 13th Avenue store and to even expand its floor space without taking out 3 existing businesses, 4 houses, a mural by one of Saskatchewan’s most important artists, and the architecturally significant facade that it currently sports.

    All it takes is a bit of thought, and consultation, something Safeway clearly hasn’t bothered to do when it plunked its suburban mall design into Regina’s only fully functioning urban neighbourhood (i.e. a neighbourhood where one can do most things: live, shop, work, go to school and find entertainment all within walking distance).

  20. I don’t mean to gang up on you Rob J, but I fail to see how older and smaller = unclean. And bigger does not necessarily always result in better selection (the Extra Foods on Broadway is a case in point). Both/either of your criticisms could be addressed without dismantling one brick of that structure.

    Maintaining the architectural integrity of the 13th Ave Safeway isn’t about turning one’s nose up at any or all things new, it’s about recognizing the value in that style of architecture – a style, by the way, that has been championed with great success elsewhere in North America. Winnipeg, for example, has preserved many of its Modernist buildings and is acclaimed internationally for doing so. There is an opportunity here for us to do the same while expanding the floor space of the current store (although I still don’t think it needs it). At any rate, It shouldn’t be done at the expense of its neighbours.

    P.S.: For the record, I too haven’t seen the other side of my 20s for over a decade.

    P.P.S.: No one is talking about hipsters anymore.

  21. I live one block from this Safeway and shop there regularly. It’s pretty small and lacks in several departments, but it beats downtown that doesn’t have a grocery store at all.

    I am excited, however, to have a Starbucks that ISN’T a 20 minute drive/40 minute walk down Albert Street. Yeah, I know, I’m the devil… but sometimes I just want a damn Caramel Macchiato!

  22. First off, the hipster comment was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek. I should’ve used a smiley face.

    I guess I will have to admit to being a bit confused by this argument as well. It is quite possible that I’m coming at this with a non prairie perspective and may be missing something. I left Regina 20 years ago. I moved back 3 months ago with my last stop being Halifax. It seems odd to me that there would be such an attraction/affection/fetishism towards that style and era of architecture.
    Halifax has a very powerful heritage organization that has, frustratingly, stalled much development in the downtown core. The result has been many buildings remain unoccupied because altering them would alter the look of the area. After years of near neglect these heritage buildings are now starting to crumble. Against that backset I lived in the south end off Barrington St in the oldest character neighborhood. Within 2 blocks were a brand new Superstore and a brand new Sobeys in the standard big box style. It didn’t hurt the character of the neighborhood. Nor did the redesign of the large Shoppers Drug Mart on Spring Garden Rd kill that street.

    Maybe I’m just being snobbish but truthfully there isn’t that much interesting architecture in this city. The vast majority of buildings in the downtown and in the core have a vague soviet-era style to them. Sure there are some nice houses in Cathedral and I like living in the area. It just amuses me that this style seems to be so coveted.

  23. Yes Barb, and in the meantime, in Syria, in Libya, in Afghanistan, and in a thousand other places in the world there are issues of grave importance. I’m not sure why you wish to denigrate those who wish to uphold some sense of emotional investment in their home city and assume that by devoting time to this particular issue, it is at the expense of something else. Honestly, don’t you have something better to do than to castigate others for demonstrating that they care about the place they live?

  24. No Ms. Saylor, I am not. Overreacting would be to write, “And in the meantime, in Somalia…” as a comment after practically every article published on the Prairie Dog blog (save for the ones about Somalia, of course). Which, by your implied logic, would be a legitimate response to just about every issue expressed on these electronic pages.

    What you mistake as nerve is my puzzlement that you would spend your time to not only refuse to contribute to the discussion at hand, but to finger-wag at those who choose to do so. And to simultaneously cheapen the plight of those suffering in Somalia by comparing it to something that only a sociopath would agree is morally equivalent.

    Having said all this, I look forward to your comments regarding the proposed changes to the 13th Avenue Safeway.

  25. Thank you for your response, Mr. Bell; it is an interesting example of temper, poor reading and amazing projection. But, you’ve asked me to contribute (I thought I had already, implying that some of you folks in Cathedral need to get some perspective), so here is something else you won’t like, but that’s par for the course. The 13th Ave. Safeway is not one of my regular shopping sites; nevertheless, I think it could use an expansion, as others on this post have stated,and, ditto, better selection, reflecting changing customer tastes. In terms of the design,what was considered ugly and “suburban” by the elite in the 1950s has now become “heritage”: how ironic. No doubt the 13th Avenue Safeway put a few Mom and Pop stores out of business, but heaven forbid that we recall that now. There’s probably a way to retain Bob Boyer’s mural; that sort of thing is done every day when buildings are renovated.

    Reading this post, and others in the past, I really wonder if the Cathedral area isn’t wishing that it were a gated community.

  26. Barb Saylor, you’ve long been identified on this blog as a semi-pro shit disturber (oh yes, you have), so I’m not sure there’s much point in refuting anything you have to say – particularly when you initiated your involvement in this discussion by baiting the other contributors with the suggestion that there’s something trivial about caring about the preservation of buildings in one’s neighbourhood.

    But, to be clear, if the situation in Somalia were such that there were loads of food to be had with absolutely no obstacles to it, and if there wasn’t a genocide happening in that part of the world, and if theirs was a booming economy, and everyone was comfortable (in other words, if they were in our situation), the people you so cheaply invoked might actually also have the luxury of being interested in saving any cherished but threatened architecture in their own cities and towns as well.

    By the way, what exactly are you doing for Somalia? Besides taking swipes at us, I mean? –Which is laudable, I admit.

    Anyway, back to the matter at hand…

    Rob J: I don’t know, but my sense is that the situation you’re describing in Halifax must have more to do with zoning than preservation.

    As to the problem with Heritage buildings left to rot, I think you’ve hit upon an important point. It’s not fair to anyone when Heritage buildings are locked down as time capsules with no funds to maintain them. It’s been pointed out that Heritage status is both a blessing and a curse for the owners. I agree that there should be some funding to help maintain and retrofit such buildings. I’d like to think such a fund would have helped to maintain the historic Gordon Block on 12th Ave. Now the future of those buildings is uncertain, regardless of their heritage value. But that’s another matter.

    I’m in a similar boat to you, Rob J – I’m not from here, and I don’t even live in the Cathedral neighbourhood (though I do regularly shop at that Safeway). It sometimes makes we wonder why I get so hot and bothered about these things. After all it’s not my home town, it’s yours.

    It sounds like the public consultation on August 9th at the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre should be a spirited affair!

  27. That store needs to be bigger so it can have more variety (and more stock) and really take advantage of its proximity to downtown. I used to live in Transition Area, er, Centre Square (?), and would walk to that Safeway often in search of staples such as bread and milk, only to find those items out of stock… which sent me back to my place to get my car and head to southland safeway instead. After being burned several times, eventually I gave up on Cathedral Safeway. I didn’t want to, but it failed me SO MANY TIMES. So I would be pleased to see it expand. That said, HEY WHERE’S THE BAGEL STORE?! And I hope they don’t have to sacrifice housing for this.

  28. Hi All,

    Great discussion. Many of the views expressed here (other than those about Somalia) were reflected in one-on-one type chats at the Open House tonight. Most people I spoke with seemed to support the notion of better products and possibly some expansion. The main issues of contention were, as I understood them, in apparent order of priority: a) aesthetics and b) community effect, e.g., ousting of businesses and the effect on those that will remain.

    On the former, there are some great examples of innovative design (e.g., the Marpole Safeway on Granville in Vancouver; and the Robson and Denman Safeway, also in Vancouver. And as someone noted, the 33rd Avenue Safeway in S’toon as renovated without interference with the facade. There are also examples of Safeways with historic murals managing to save them prior to renovation or demolition.

    On the latter, it seems a fait accompli that the bagel shop, hairdresser and laundromat will be taken over, and that the houses behind have been purchased. Not sure what can be done there. But there could be more effort put into having outdoor seating areas for coffee to mimic the bagel shop culture – but the regulars likely won’t be there anyways if a coffee costs $5 ‘Bucks.

    There are forms that you can fill out on the City website before August 26th which the Planning Committee will summarize and present to Council. Please consider expressing your views there too:

    Also, some of us at the meeting were considering some version of the “Save the Library” campaign that preserved Connaught a few years ago. There have been various communities that have successfully encouraged their councils to request Safeway to modify their designs to be more historically inclusive and culturally sensitive. Hopefully, we can do the same. Any inspirational thoughts on process would be welcome. One thought was to set up a Facebook site that could build support and provide a forum for ideas on how to make a new building more palatable. But tempus fugit.

  29. As someone else mentioned, they saved their lovely modern building in Saskatoon so there may be hope for saving the 13th ave store. This would be a much better option for 13th ave. See the S’toon store here on google street view:

  30. I live a block from the Safeway. I have lived within 2 blocks of the Safeway on 13th in different houses for the past 25+ years.

    I want a big, “lifestyle” Safeway in the neighborhood – Yay!

    Looking forward to not driving to the better Safeways in town.

    This probably means we will not be at risk of losing the supermarket in the middle of our village.

    I like the idea of the houses being moved onto new, dry, non-crumbling basements on empty lots in the neighborhood. Yay Habitat for Humanity!

    Save the arch if we can but it’s not a deal breaker for me. Too bad we can’t get this excited about other “eyesores” in the neighborhood – Gale’s florist for example: Ugly! Run down! Slummy! Not sure I can unconditionally love the “mom and pop operations” without question. and then that weedy, shredded plastic greenhouse on the side.

    Saw a great Lifestyle Safeway down in Washington – it had 3 stories of housing built above it. A great inner city design.

    I’m more worried about the laundromat than the hair salon or the bagel place. I hope someone will open a business like this in our neighborhood.

  31. Last evening I heard the four houses may not be re-located as is, but dismantled and the parts used in various new Habitat for Humanity homes around the city.

  32. I vote for the new building and the expansion of Safeway to a building that can handle the volume required and in the same area or closer downtown is ok too. As it exists now, the store is often crowded and looking pretty worn in. I also vote for the sensitive relocation of the artwork, if possible, requiring more effort, and the happy relocation of any merchants who may be displaced; a real aggravation for them its true – but maybe a nice change too. I am tired of Regina not having the products, stores, goods and services that it needs and that everybody else has. As one who lives in the downtown core, it is alarming how far and to where you have to go for a litre of milk that doesn’t expire the next day. This is long overdue. A Starbuck’s will not take business away from existing coffee shops, it will create new and more coffee customers. I’ve had the pleasure of being in a newly designed and erected 21st building a few times this year and its pretty great. As a long-time supporter of heritage buildings, I am changing my mind about preserving things that cannot be preserved or restored properly and that just fall apart. I fully support Regina’s renovations. Thanks for asking.

  33. While I necessarily don’t live in the Cathedral area, I believe that this Safeway in Regina is the last to be renovated. I think it could kinda help in some small terms, for instance I notice that their Safeway is the only Safeway in Regina that doesn’t have deli sandwiches, and my god, you have no idea how much I’m in love with Safeway Deli Sandwiches.

    The only concerns I have is that is the fact that this Safeway is a conjoined building with the hair salon, bagel shop and the Scotiabank. Will those businesses still exist? Will it affect the businesses in general?

    I’m also imagining the new Safeway would probably include a Starbucks too. As if we really need that crap in the Cathedral area. SUPPORT LOCAL COFFEE BUSINESSESS!!!

  34. Until Safeway purchases more locally produced vegetables, fruit, meat and grain from local farmers, it doesn’t matter to me what size the building is. In a way, the current store’s size deceives us– Safeway is not a small local store, it’s a huge corporation that supports centralized food production and factory farms, which are dependent on fossil fuels, cheap immigrant labour, and pay farmers low wages to produce low-.

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