Housing Complex

A Whole Foods on H Street? Not a Done Deal.

H Street NE is not going hungry. A 41,000-square-foot Giant Food opened last month at the corner of 3rd Street. A Yes! Organic Market is reportedly coming to the former H Street Playhouse space at 1365 H Street NE. And I've been hearing recently from people in the know that a Whole Foods is coming to the 600 block of the street, on the site currently occupied by Murry's grocery store and H St. Self Storage.

Trent Smith of Insight Property Group, which is developing the site, confirms that Insight has been talking to Whole Foods but says it's too early to say what will come to the retail space. "We’ve talked to them, and we’ve talked to others," Smith says. "I don’t know how it’ll turn out."

At an April hearing before the Zoning Commission, Smith and Holland & Knight's Christie Shiker presented Insight's plan for the property, which encompasses most of the block bounded by H, I, 6th, and 7th streets. Or rather, Insight's plans, plural: There was an original submission with approximately 453 residential units and 73,000 square feet of retail space, and there was a "grocery alternate" with 432 units and 96,000 square feet of retail.

Smith says Insight isn't committed to grocery over other retail options. "We’re going to get the best fit for the project and the community," he says.

The arrival of three new grocery stores (more than offsetting the loss of the smaller, lower-end Murry's) on an 11-block stretch of H Street would be part of a broader grocery invasion in the east-central part of the city. It's a welcome development as the area's population surges, but it also raises questions of whether supply might be increasingly so quickly as to outstrip demand.

Still, Tony Goodman, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for nearby NoMa, says it's good news for the neighborhood. Goodman's heard that the Whole Foods at 6th and H is "happening," but that if it falls through, other developers in the area have also been pursuing the store.

"It’s not really a question for H Street/NoMa of Whole Foods coming," he says. "It’s which site are they going to go to? Which is amazing."

Comments

  1. AWalkerInTheCity
    #1

    the other rumor is whole foods for Cap Riverfront project on New Jersey SE (phase 1 now UC, WF would go in a later phase).

  2. #2

    Plus the Safeway at 5th and K NW, which is closer to NOMA and the east end of H St NE than the Aldi and NE Safeway are.

  3. #3

    Seems all too familiar with all the Whole Foods is coming to DC USA posts that went on forever. All the people in the know...and the "it's not if, but when"

  4. #4

    That safeway is awful. No one goes there that can help it.

    Whole foods is kidding itself. They'll get killed.

  5. #5

    There's a terrible irony for the long-time residents of the neighborhood where Murray's gets replaced with Whole Paycheck. It's a long walk from 6th street to Aldi's for folks that can't afford arugula.

  6. #6

    Yeah terrible irony indeed. It's called Giant which is three blocks away. Murray's is a pathetic excuse of a grocery store and low-income people deserve affordable food that isn't moldy and rotting (as is the case in Murray's). Thankfully Giant now serves that need.

  7. #7

    Won't the Walmart at H and New Jersey, NW be a grocery store as well? The saturation of large new grocery stores in the area make believe the Capital Riverfront rumors much more likely. I just don't see a Wholefoods going in at 6th & H given all the competition.

    When Wholefoods came to P Street, there was a substandard small store across the street, two small safeways on 17th and 20th, Giants in Columbia Heights and 7th & O, but all in pretty crappy shape. There was pent up demand for any grocery store and Wholefoods had a different reputation than it does now.

    I personally hope we don't get Wholefoods and it goes to the Riverfront. Better fit for everyone.

    I've been wondering what is H Street's niche is going to be, beyond nightlife?

  8. #8

    Aldi's killing the Safeway but the new Giant would hurt WF too much. Riverfront more likely.

  9. #9

    i wish my neighborhood was arguing about too many grocery store options.

  10. #10

    If WF goes in it will just speed gentrification in the neighborhood. Trinidad and everything south of New York Ave will be unrecognizable in 5 years.

  11. #11

    Why would the Giant threaten Whole Foods? They serve different needs. There's a Safeway very close to the Whole Foods in Glover Park.

  12. #12

    There is also a rumor buzzing that Whole Foods is eyeing the 4100 block of South Capitol St SW, which is not an uncommon move for the chain, which is known for going in neighborhoods that seem unlikely candidates on the surface, but later gentrify. That area is already undergoing gentrification and with the new tenants of St. Elizabeth's searching for food options coupled with the new condo developments, I would not doubt this rumor is in fact true.

  13. #13

    With new apartment buildings at 3rd & H, 3rd & I, 3rd & K, and more potentially coming online on both sides of the 600 block and the south side of the 800 block, there will be more than enough density to support a grocery store in the 600 block. Giant is already slammed with people. Murray's (currently located in the 600 block) doesn't see a tenth of the business, but that's because Murray's is tiny and has limited selection, compared to other grocery stores in the city. There is another big development coming online at Florida and New York Ave. Trust me, there will be no outstripping of demand, as long as these apartment buildings fill up. To afford the rent in those buildings, an occupant's salary has to be near 100k.

    There are also a number of office buildings in NOMA and H Street is a commuter street (meaning NOMA employees could conceivably swing through H Street after work on their way home or even as a lunch option (Harris Teeter in NOMA is currently slammed during the lunch hour). Don't focus on what the area is now, focus on what it will be in 3-5 years. I'm betting on a total redevelopment of Hechinger Mall within 5 years. Bladensburg is also bound to change (there is plenty of room for increased residential density along Bladensburg from H to Mt. Olivet, the businesses along that strip, by and large, don't appear to be doing enough business to turn down large purchase offers from developers).

  14. #14

    This is a solid move.

    Next thing we need is more daytime retail. If you're not looking for a haircut or a new pair of shoes, the middle blocks aren't offering much.

  15. #15

    H St NE can support multiple grocery stores, especially as all the new apartment buildings come online. Capitol Hill only has the Safeway and Harris Teeter near Potomac Avenue Metro. That's a lot of townhouse blocks between the Giant on 3rd and H NE and 14th and D SE.

    Other areas support multiple grocery stores in proximity to each other. Silver Spring has a Whole Foods, a Safeway, and a Giant. U Street is going to get a Trader Joe's that will be proximate the P Street Whole Foods, the Columbia Heights Giant, and and the Shaw Giant. Foggy Bottom has a Trader Joe's and a Whole Foods. Bethesda has a Giant, Safeway and Trader Joe's. The list goes on.

  16. #16

    Nicoli,
    You are very correct.

  17. #17

    Nicoli,

    I think Trinidad and everything south of New York Ave will be unrecognizable in 5 years regardless of WF's plans.

  18. #18

    Whole foods is going to Stanton's Hine School redevelopment.

  19. #19

    With over 100,000 new residents coming to DC every year, there will certainly be enough demand for additional grocery stores. The density in the NOMA/H Street/Capitol Hill area is fast approaching that of many larger cities and will have the highest population density in a ll of of DC. Comparisons to Upper NW and Silver Spring are not realistic. Whole Foods will no doubt be attracted to the H street spot due to the streetcar and proximity to the most expensive part of Capitol Hill.

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