What’s next for empty Safeway in downtown San Jose
OneMedAll, an oral wellness and health consulting company, plans to open its first customer-facing location in downtown San Jose where a Safeway closed more than four years ago. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    A prominent commercial space in downtown San Jose is being taken over by a new business, following more than four years of vacancy.

    OneMedAll, an oral wellness and health consulting company based in San Jose, is planning to open its first customer-facing location at 100 S. Second St., the same space where a Safeway shuttered in 2019.

    Some residents and downtown advocates were hoping the space would have been occupied by another grocer, but are happy to have a large storefront occupied.

    Eric Chong, the company’s president, said OneMedAll purchased the 24,000 square-foot space, where they plan to open a new business concept in November. The space will provide limited dentistry services directly to patients, as well as billing and health planning education to medical professionals and patients.

    “For patients, it will be the first of its kind and open to the public, where they will be able to come in and get their own dentures, implants and restorative (dentistry products), we’re going to call that the oral health and wellness center,” Chong told San José Spotlight. “We will also be providing education and classes for dentists, their teams and patients that want to get oral health and wellness education.”

    Alex Stettinski, CEO of the San Jose Downtown Association, said he would have preferred to see a grocery store or market take over the storefront.

    “Because it’s a really central space where a lot of people have access, and it’s a nice large space that would lend itself to a market. That would have been my first choice,” Stettinski told San José Spotlight.

    But he noted that having a longstanding empty space is not beneficial for the downtown.

    “I am happy if we have less vacancies, bottom line,” Stettinski said. “I am looking forward to learning more about (OneMedAll), to see how they can help further our community, but off the bat, I am happy there is movement and a larger space is being activated.”

    Downtown has struggled to regain consistent activity and buzz following the pandemic, and empty storefronts, blight and homelessness are major hurdles that officials are trying to address. Stettinski and others have suggested the area will recover quickly if dense housing is pursued in the downtown core. That would bring in more people to support restaurants, bars, salons and other service businesses.

    OneMedAll will be run on memberships, similar to a Costco model, Chong said. The business will help educate medical care providers and patients, especially people 65 and older, on how to use Medicare coverage for dental work, billing, to expand access to treatment and increase pay for dentists.

    “If we can just provide the existing resources that are already there, but people don’t have the knowledge and education for, and help connect the dots for them, I think we can all be in a win-win-win situation,” Chong said. “The patients win, the doctors win, the community wins.”

    Elizabeth Chien-Hale, a board member of the San Jose Downtown Residents Association, said she too would have preferred a grocery store in the space, but noted an oral health business could do well there.

    “I think they moved to the right location because there are a lot of retirees,” Chien-Hale told San José Spotlight. “It’s better to have something as opposed to nothing.”

    Chien-Hale is also skeptical about the business being able to sustain itself in such a large space, but is interested to see how it develops.

    While a lack of free parking nearby may have contributed to the closure of Safeway several years ago, Chong said he is looking into an agreement with the city to have two free hours of validated parking for OneMedAll visitors in surface lots adjacent to the space.

    Chong said he was attracted to the space because of its central location near transit, other downtown businesses and San Jose State University and hopes the area makes a rebound.

    “We expect it to come back in full force. We want to be a large part of that confidence in seeing that downtown is open again. We want to be a part of that community,” he said.

    Chong said his company plans to eventually open additional locations in other major cities.

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

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