April 02, 2015 - 2:24 pm

Whole Foods is coming!

Whole Foods on P Street NW, Washington, DC

The Washington Business Journal reports that Whole Foods is slated for a new development on the parking lot at Florida and Sherman Avenues.  The retailer’s arrival is typically a harbinger of soaring real estate values for surrounding neighborhoods. Whole Food is the latest iteration of potential tenants, which had before included Harris Teeter.

The Whole Foods is part of a proposed mixed-use development by developers MRP and JBG, the latter of which is finishing several development projects just a few blocks away.

The development proposal is far from final. Since the development involves the disposition of District-owned land, the DC Council will have to approve the deal.

Area residents have enjoyed a grocery renaissance over the past two years. A new Giant, the largest grocery store in DC, opened at 7th and P Streets in November 2013. A new Trader Joe’s opened at 14th and U Streets in March 2014.

Here’s an updated list of of LeDroit Park’s nearest grocery stores, as measured from Anna Cooper Circle.

Store Location Distance (mi)
Giant 7th & P Streets NW 0.6
Whole Foods (proposed) Florida & Sherman Avenues NW 0.7
Trader Joe’s 14th & U Streets NW 0.9
Safeway 5th & L Streets NW 0.9
Harris Teeter 1st & M Streets NE 1.0
Whole Foods 1400 blk. P Street NW 1.1


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July 31, 2013 - 8:17 am

Is something like Eastern Market coming to the U Street area?

The Griffith as seen from Florida Avenue

The Griffith as seen from Florida Avenue

There’s some big news over on Florida Avenue by the 9:30 Club.  The District has chosen the MRP-Ellis Development team to develop 1.45 acres of city-owned land at 965 Florida Avenue.  The site sits on the east side of Florida Avenue at the intersection with Sherman Avenue.  The MRP-Ellis proposal, dubbed The Griffith*, is a 370,000-square-foot building with 35,000 square feet of retail topped with several floors of residential.

I haven’t found the apartment unit count, but the retail component is envisioned as a market somewhat like Union Market and Eastern Market.  Furthermore, The Griffith proposal extends Bryant Street from 8th Street to the intersection of Florida and Sherman Avenues.  East-west connectivity is a goal of the DUKE Small Area Plan and something that the city has been seeking as that area is redeveloped.

Site plan and surrounding streets for The Griffith development

Site plan and surrounding streets for The Griffith development

Part of the story for this award is who didn’t win.  Both MRP-Ellis and JBG competed for the site.  Many people following the competition thought JBG had the upper hand, since it controlled an adjacent site on Florida Avenue (see the big blank area above).  JBG’s plan involved connecting W Street instead of Bryant Street.  The JBG plan also included a Harris Teeter, 125 hotel rooms, 30,000 square feet of office space, 20,000 square feet of retail, 150 condos, 250 apartments, and 200 micro-apartments.

According to the Washington Business Journal, the District preferred The Griffith’s program for several reasons:

What put MRP over the top, according to [the District], was an offer to build more affordable housing, an agreement to submit to the District’s planned-unit development process (ensuring community coordination) and its willingness to pay more for the land.

Don’t expect shovels in the ground just yet.  The details of the deal will have to be finalized and then approved by the Council.  Then the project will go through a Planned Unit Development (PUD) process that involves a few months of community input and zoning hearings during which the developer will likely negotiate a community benefits agreement.  After that’s finished, the permits will need to be approved and construction can finally begin.  It may be four or five years until we see a ribbon-cutting.

In the meantime, JBG may build a smaller project on the land it owns immediately to the south of the awarded site.  No plans have been released, but whatever it is, says JBG, it won’t include a Harris Teeter or a W Street connection.

View the proposals:

* “The Griffith” is an homage to Griffith Stadium, which once stood where Howard University Hospital now stands.

September 13, 2012 - 9:28 am

We may be in store for another grocery store

If local developer JBG has its way, a Harris Teeter may be coming to a parking lot near the 9:30 Club.  The proposal is only in the preliminary stages and requires the District to sell an unused parking lot to the company.

JBG owns the lot immediately to the south of the District property and would like to combine them into a single project. The two adjacent properties are labeled “DC Gov” and “JBG” on the middle-left portion of the map below. While JBG does not yet control the District-owned site, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development will offer the site, along with several others, for sale this fall. For all we know, the District could select another developer.

As you may recall, Chevy Chase-based JBG is one of the biggest developers on 14th Street and U Street. They’re current constructing or entitling (seeking permits, zoning relief, etc.) several nearby projects.  At the southwest corner of 14th and U, the company is currently building a multifamily project that will include a Trader Joe’s. On the 700 and 800 blocks of Florida Avenue, the company is preparing to build two modernist multifamily buildings.  On the northwest and southwest corners of 8th and V Streets, the company recently revealed its drawings for a condo building and an apartment building.

Besides JBG, many new developers are including grocery stores in areas that have long suffered a lack of good grocery options. The forthcoming Giant at 7th & P Streets will become our closest supermarket when it reopens next year. If the proposed Harris Teeter ever gets built, it will be the second closest supermarket to LeDroit Park:

Store Location Distance (mi)
Giant (opening 2013) 7th & P Streets NW 0.6
Harris Teeter (proposed) Florida & Sherman Avenues NW 0.7
Trader Joe’s (opening 2014) 14th & U Streets NW 0.9
Safeway 5th & L Streets NW 0.9
Harris Teeter 1st & M Streets NE 1.0
Whole Foods 1400 blk. P Street NW 1.1

But wasn’t Howard Town Center, about a block away, supposed to include a grocery store? The proximity of a Harris Teeter might scare off a competitor from signing on with the still-unbuilt Howard Town Center. This could further delay the long-stalled project.

Developers like to have leases signed before construction since the leases show investors and lenders that the project will produce an income to repay the loans. For some development proposals, the lack of a lease can scuttle the project entirely.

JBG’s announcement of its agreement with Harris Teeter is somewhat unusual. National grocery chains typically keep their prospective sites secret. That JBG announced the agreement without even controlling the land is unusual.

Another interesting twist to the case is that the District used to own the Howard Town Center site and Howard used to own the parking lot JBG wants to buy. The District and the university swapped the properties many years ago out of convenience to each other. How ironic it would be if the government-owned site is the site that gets redeveloped faster.

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