Feds continue to mull Albertsons-Safeway merger

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Albertsons has a long and storied history in Idaho.

The corporate offices in Boise proudly pronounce the supermarket chain as "an Idaho-based company."

Now a new chapter in Albertsons history is about to be written with its pending merger with Safeway.

"I think it's hard to overstate what that means to the city," said Boise Mayor David Bieter.

If federal regulators approve Albertsons' purchase of Safeway, Albertsons would be the second largest traditional grocery store chain in the country behind Kroger.

And Boise would reap some big-time benefits.

"I think there's going to be more employees over time coming to Boise,(the merger) can bring other vendors and other things," said Mayor Bieter. "We don't want to get ahead of this, we'll watch it evolve, but we're optimistic some good things will come out of this."

Federal regulators are putting the companies through antitrust review, examining market dominance, one neighborhood at a time in some cities.

And this development, if indeed it does happen, is taking place at a time of some very exciting growth in Downtown Boise, said Karen Sander, executive director of the Downtown Boise Association.

"The 8th and Main (Zions Bank) building is up in the place of the hole," she said. "We've got the JUMP project going up, Simplot headquarters coming in, the City Center plaza coming in, the multimodal center coming in. We now have a Trader Joe's and Whole Foods."

Less than 20 years ago, Boise was home to many national and regional corporations. That number decreased even as Albertsons was on a downhill slide.

But Joe Albertson's supermarket is poised for a turnaround that surely would make its founder proud.