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File photoThe Ashland Safeway on Siskiyou Boulevard.

Reports say Albertsons bidding on former Ashland Safeway store

Albertsons is bidding to take over 36 stores previously operated by Haggen Foods, including the former Safeway store in Ashland.

Earlier this year, Haggen purchased 146 Safeway and Albertsons grocery stores in five states, including many in Oregon and Washington, following a Safeway-Albertsons merger and a federal order that they sell off 168 stores to avoid creating monopoly situations.

But Haggen, which had previously operated only 18 stores in two states, struggled to operate its new stores, and in September filed for bankruptcy. Since then it has closed most of its stores and is putting them up for auction.

Albertsons has submitted bids on three dozen stores that are up for auction this week, including some that were Albertsons stores previously. According to reports, the former Safeway/Haggen store at 585 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland, is one of those. Albertsons is also bidding for store sites in Eugene, Springfield and Baker City. No bidders were listed for two stores in Klamath Falls or one in Grants Pass.

Albertsons already has a store in Ashland. Questions remain to be answered about whether operating a second store would run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission's orders that the combined Albertsons-Safeway group sell off stores in markets where it could have an unfair competitive advantage.

The Ashland Food Co-op had also indicated interest in acquiring the former Haggen site on Siskiyou Boulevard, but Co-op General Manager Emile Amarotico said Wednesday that the Co-op would not participate in the bidding for the site, which he said would be leased to the winning bidder.

According to Jackson County property records, Safeway sold the 2.1-acre property and its 24,000 square-foot grocery market building on April 30, for $4.5 million on April 30 to a Haggen Holdings company based in Bellingham, Wash.

The auction, which reportedly is for leasing, not purchasing, the property, was scheduled to conclude today. Haggen indicated it would present the winning bidders' names to the bankruptcy court on Friday.

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