Housing Complex

It’s a Grocery Invasion!

With a new Giant supermarket opening tomorrow at 300 H St. NE, this is as good a time as any to explore the massive supermarket influx taking place in the central and east-central part of the city. (Call it greater Mid City East if you like, or don't if you don't.) There's the Trader Joe's opening at 14th and U streets NW. There's the Walmart coming to First and H NW, nearly half of which will be devoted to grocery. There's the Harris Teeter that's rumored to be on the table for the McMillan site and the one that's likely to come to 965 Florida Ave. NW. There's the huge Giant coming to Shaw's CityMarket at O (though that's replacing a decrepit old Giant). There's the 41,000-square-foot Fresh Grocer coming to the Howard Town Center on Georgia Avenue. And, if we stray a bit farther out, there's the Yes! Organic Market that may soon come to the former H Street Playhouse space.

Here's a rough map of the existing (green) and coming or potentially coming (red) supermarkets in the area (excluding small, independent groceries):

So what's going on here? Is supply catching up with demand, or is it outstripping it? On the one hand, the lines at the Columbia Heights Giant and the P Street Whole Foods would seem to indicate that some additional options in the central city are needed. After all, Logan Circle and Columbia Heights are the densest census tracts in the region, and they're only getting denser, what with all the apartment and condo buildings coming to the U Street area. But on the other hand, we're likely to see something on the order of a doubling of chain supermarket supply in the area, and it'll be some time before the population does anything like double.

For the time being, though, this is great news for residents of central/east-central/whatever-you-want-to-call-it D.C., who can expect more options and shorter lines in the coming years. If only neighborhoods in greater need of grocery options could get it on the action...

Update: Thanks to commenter Scott Roberts for pointing out the Fresh Grocer coming to Georgia Avenue. The post and map have been updated to include that store.

  • anon

    pretty conspicuous how they all ring the periphery of ledroit/bloomingdale, which lacks immediate access to a grocery store...the United Planning Org HQ on Rhode Island and 3rd NW was once a Safeway, which it should revert back to.

  • scottrobertsinbloomingdale

    Aaron -- there is supposed to be a supermarket at the Howard Town Center on Georgia Avenue NW, too.

  • JES

    Different neighborhood area I guess, but there's also a Teeter coming to Navy Yard next year.

  • Jen McIvor

    There's also grocery planned at Monroe Street Market off Michigan Ave, a mile from McMillan. All I can say is: my stomach thanks you! Seriously, it's about time that all these neighborhoods are no longer food deserts. Anyone who's ever stood in line at the Rhode Island Giant or P Street Whole Foods can say for certain that these retailers will do great.

  • anon2

    to the first commenter, true... there's a radius from Bloomingdale/Eckington where no grocery store happens.
    C'mon retail!

  • joan

    Yes, the city now has the growing population for all these new grocery stores. Be prepared for the Food Fights!

  • Jeremy

    @JES When is the Navy Yard Harris Teeter set to open?

  • http://westnorth.com PCC

    I'm amazed at how many people don't comprehend just how vast supermarkets are.* Even a small supermarket takes 1/4 of an entire city block, a large one 1/2 a block; structures that big just can't hide within a typical rowhouse neighborhood. Bloomingdale and LeDroit just don't have one-acre parcels to develop with supermarkets. Plus, some of your louder neighbors don't even want any retail at the edges of the neighborhood, either.

    @Jeremy: opening date for HT at The Yards has been pushed back to 2014 due to last year's explosive excavation foibles.

    * or have architects already gotten that good at hiding the vast bulk of these big boxes?

  • NE John

    Harris Teeter and Giant suck. Whole Foods is the only place I'll shop, except Yes in a pinch

  • D

    I read that the U Street TJs was only permitted for 391 people. Judging by the line that wrapped all the way around the Foggy Bottom location this past Monday (used to just be weekends) they're gonna need a velvet rope and bouncer to manage crowds at 14th and U. There's probably sufficient demand for at least 3 more TJs in the city and the other grocers will do fine too.

  • http://www.twitter.com/AdamLDC Adam L

    Grocery store chains are very selective where they open up shop, especially considering the high costs to operate, extreme competition, and the exceedingly low profit margins. Their analysts use very detailed modeling software to track population trends and assess demand and obviously folks in some corporate office have pinpointed on this area as a place to make money.

    As an example, the town I grew up in had 30,000 people, three supermarkets, and at least 4 other food markets that I count off the top of my head. Considering that there are 47,000 people in zip code 20009 alone, I'm going to guess that these new stores (if they all open) will only fill existing demand.

    The fact that many of these stores are smaller than your average suburban supermarket may also strengthen the need more stores overall; which is great, I'd prefer to have many neighborhood stores than a single 1,000,000 sq. ft. mega grocer.

  • Kes

    All I can say is I hope the New Giant at 3rd & H and the Yes! at 14th & H force the Sucky Safeway at Hechinger Mall to stop selling rotten fruits and rancid meat. Of course, the Aldi right next door hasn't forced them to tighten up as yet, so maybe that's wishful thinking...

  • http://www.facebook.com/votegarber David Garber

    @Jeremy,

    The Navy Yard Harris Teeter (http://twelve12dc.com/) is expected to open in spring of 2014.

  • hungryone

    thats great! but i still live in a "Food Desert"

  • yup yup

    I happily boycotted Giant & Safeway once the HT opened up in Columbia Heights. Trader Joe's will be huge for those of us near 14th & U - let's just hope the lines aren't horrific!

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