It looks like 2013 will be a harvest year for LeDroit Park residents as two new grocery stores open nearby. DCist broke the news that Trader Joe’s will open a store at the Louis building now under construction at the southwest corner of 14th and U.
Located at just under a mile’s walk from Anna J. Cooper Circle, the new store will provide another grocery option to area residents.
TJ’s prices are competitive with many other stores and the TJ’s specializes in unusual and somewhat exotic foods in addition to the usual staples. TJ’s main weakness lies in its produce selection, which, judging from experiences at the Trader Joe’s in the West End, is limited.
The store’s opening next year will also be accompanied by the opening of the 60,000 square-foot Giant at the CityMarket project at 7th and P Streets in Shaw. Once these two projects open, all the major grocery store chains in the area will be located no more than 1.1 mi. from LeDroit Park.
|Giant (opening 2013)||7th & P Streets NW||0.6|
|Trader Joe’s (opening 2013)||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|
Even still I dream of a full-service grocery store opening up at the long-stalled Howard Town Center project at Georgia Avenue and V Street. The project, in the planning stages for many years, has been perpetually delayed by disagreements between Howard University and its development partner.
The UPO building on Rhode Island Avenue used to be a Safeway many years ago. The site is large enough to be redeveloped into a modern, urban grocery store if parking is placed underground. In fact the second floor could house UPO’s offices.
Until those dreams come true, the nearest full-service grocery stores are a long, but manageable walk.
What happened to all the historic buildings at 7th Street, Florida Avenue, and Georgia Avenue? We all recognize the CVS and its adjacent parking lot. As we reported before, the adjacent grassy field is slated for a residential development by JBG, one of the region’s largest development companies.
But how did the CVS, the parking lot, and the grassy field get there in the first place? They are the consequence of the 1968 riots and of the construction of the Green Line tunnels.
The riots of April 1968 destroyed many of the buildings along 7th Street. A few months ago we came across this photo in a Congressional report published in the wake of the riots. The west side of 7th Street from T Street to Florida Avenue was obliterated:
Decades later, the intersection sat at an elbow in the proposed Green Line tunnel. The subway line curves from 7th Street to Florida Avenue and then to U Street. Much of the line was constructed using the cut-and-cover method, which requires razing buildings, digging a trench, building a concrete box in the trench, and covering it back over.
Subway tunnels typically run under existing streets, but sharp changes in direction require cutting corners and thus the creation of tunnels where buildings often stand.
A 1988 photograph shows the construction of the Green Line tunnels, which pass under the CVS and adjacent lots.
What the riots didn’t destroy, the Green Line took care of.
To reduce the liklihood that patrons will park on residential streets around the Howard Theatre, the theatre will sell prepaid private parking through Ticketmaster. The passes are for private lots owned by Howard University and other private owners.
In fact, we were looking on Ticketmaster at prices and availability for April’s Wanda Sykes show and spotted this prominent parking add-on at the bottom:
The lots described above are as follows:
- Valet shuttle Lot B – Howard University’s large parking lot at Georgia Avenue and W Street.
- Self-parking Lot A – Howard University’s HURB-I parking lot at 7th & T Streets.
- Premier Valet – private triangle lot at T Street and Florida Avenue, across from the theater.
When Progression Place, the office and apartment project at the Shaw Metro, finally opens, the theatre will lay claim to a significant number of the project’s underground parking spaces during nighttime hours, thus adding a another option.
Cultural Tourism DC is finishing the installation of the signs for the Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail. Here is one we spotted outside the Dunbar Theater (now Wells Fargo bank) at 7th and T Streets NW.
The trail opening event will be on Saturday, October 15 at 11 am at the plaza in front of Howard University Hospital.
Work on the heritage trail for LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale has progressed greatly and we are on our way to having our own trail to honor LeDroit Park’s rich history.
Plans for Howard University’s proposed mixed-use development project, Howard Town Center, have been dragging on for years. The university is making the tough call to hold out for the ideal project rather than build what it can in this investment climate.
Troy Stovall, Howard University’s chief operating officer, revealed Thursday that the difficulty in financing the project is not due to the retail and supermarket component, but due to the number of apartments slated for the site.
Rather than letting the developer proceed with building the garage, supermarket, retail shops and half the number of apartments originally planned, Howard wants the full project, including all of the apartments built into project at the same time.
When asked on the status of the retail component, Mr. Stovall said that the developer has received several letters of intent from supermarkets interested in the space. The problem, though, lies upstairs. The banks, Mr. Stovall stated, are less convinced about the financial viability of building so many apartments on lower Georgia Avenue.
U street developer JBG, however, has recently purchased several properties within a few blocks of the Howard Town Center site. JBG and Howard’s banks clearly differ in confidence in the area’s potential.
Is Howard letting the perfect become the enemy of the good? Neighbors appear to strongly support the arrival of a supermarket, especially since the closest one, a mile away, offers a paltry selection.
However, to abide by the banks’ requirements to reduce the number of units reduces the viability of the area’s retail revitalization. More residents, after all, means more potential customers, and thus more chances for success along Georgia Avenue.
It’s certainly debatable as to whether the delay in the arrival of a grocery store is worth the slowing of Georgia Avenue’s revival. One the one hand, Howard’s desire for delayed gratification will make the avenue’s retail revitalization more durable. On the other hand, holding out for the ideal project postpones a catalyst for the avenue’s revival.
This is the third in a series on the Scurlock photo archive. Read the others.
The 1968 riots burned and economically destroyed many commercial districts throughout Washington. Riots came to U Street, too, and several properties which were obliterated have not entirely recovered from the devastation.
After World War II, many of America’s cities faced population and economic decline as the nation suburbanized; Washington was certainly no exception. The retail corridors on 14th St NW, U St NW, and H St NE were already declining when riots hit American cities in 1968 following the Martin Luther King’s assassination.
Addison Scurlock (1883-1964) was Washington’s most prominent black photographer and when the riots started in April 1968, Mr. Scurlock['s sons, who inherited his studio] at 9th and U Streets (where Nellie’s now stands) knew that [they were]
he was witnessing history in the making. Mr. Scurlock The Scurlocks photographed rioters at the beginning of the riots and photographed some of the aftermath.
The corner of 7th Street, Florida Avenue, and Georgia Avenue suffered from the mayhem. The southwest corner now houses a CVS and a parking lot on land that Howard University owns. Beneath this store runs the Metro tunnel between the Shaw and U Street stations. Back in 1968, this site featured a strip of retail stores until the riot.
One of the most striking Scurlock photos is of the northwest corner of 7th and T Streets NW, where the CVS currently stands. Rioters burned the buildings that stood on the site.
[Toggling between now and then photos will not work in RSS readers. View the actual post]
Only recently did I notice the roof terrace atop this building at the northwest corner of Florida and Georgia Avenues NW. It would make an excellent spot for restaurant seating.
We passed by Pharmacare today at the corner of Georgia and Florida Avenues and they were hosting their grand opening. Pharmacare is not your average pharmacy. They stock pharmaceuticals not readily available at most pharmacies and they provide home delivery too. Pharmacare is a local chain and we’re told that they were among the only pharmacies in Washington that braved our snow storms to deliver critical medicines.
We welcome them to the neighborhood and we hope they succeed.
At Thursday’s ANC1B meeting, Chip Ellis, head of the Howard Theatre’s restoration, announced that the much-delayed renovations will start in the last week of August. The theater, when it opens, will host R&B acts, jazz, and Sunday gospel brunches in a venue that Ellis describes as “cabaret style”.
Careful observers of the restoration sketch (above) will notice the statue at the top of the façade. Originally the theater featured a statue of Apollo playing the lyre; the new statue, fabricated in metal and lit with LEDs will be themed “the Jazz Man”. Mr. Ellis will return in a few months with design drawings.
When asked about parking, Mr. Ellis stated that the restoration project plans to partner with Howard University to offer parking in one of its lots a few blocks away on Georgia Avenue. He also proposed the idea of building a garage on the southern portion of the parking lot of Howard University Hospital.
We appreciate Mr. Ellis’s efforts restoring the Howard Theatre, but we would not welcome a parking garage on Georgia Avenue. A garage would contradict the Office of Planning’s DUKE Plan, which specifically calls for ground-floor retail and offices on that site. A street-fronting garage would deprive Georgia Avenue of the streetlife that retail uses generate.
Furthermore, since parking is a necessary component of driving; providing more parking will induce more driving, something the area suffers from already.
It’s confirmed. A 7-11 is coming to the corner of Georgia and Florida Avenues just outside the LeDroit Park Historic District. Douglas Development Corporation, the building’s owner and one of the city’s biggest developers, has confirmed to our ANC commissioner that 7-11 has signed a lease for part of the first floor space.
Pharmacare, which has not opened yet, occupies the Georgia Avenue front on the first floor (photo above, left side) and 7-11 will occupy the Florida Avenue front (center and right side). The choice of leasing the space to 7-11 has sparked a small controversy as many residents were hoping for something a tad more upscale than than discount drugs (you can buy the illegal kind a block away at the corner of Seventh & T) and a chain convenience store.
Some residents have expressed the desire to see a cafe, gym, or a full-fledged grocery store open up in or near LeDroit Park.
The LeDroit Park Market does indeed sell coffee, but residents looking for an espresso fix have to wander on over to the Starbucks at W Street and Georgia Avenue. There are rumors of a cafe coming to the old Pyramids Restaurant space in the building currently under renovation at Sixth Street and Florida Avenue, but we haven’t received details yet.
The siting of a grocery store is more difficult. The nature of grocery shopping tends to require parking more so than most other commercial uses do, so any grocer would probably only consider spaces with underground garages or outdoor lots. Few properties nearby meet this requirement, except for the United Planning Organization headquarters at Second Street and Rhode Island Avenue (pictured below). For decades it was a Safeway, but since UPO has no plans to move, we can rule out the building as a potential site.
Another potential site might be the Wonderbread Factory (pictured below) on S Street by the north entrance to the Shaw Metro. It’s currently owned by Douglas Development, but has been vacant for quite a while. At nearly 40,000 square feet over two floors, the building might be a good candidate for a grocery store. With the UNCF headquarters about to break ground this summer just across the alleyway, perhaps the two developers could come to an agreement to provide some underground spaces to patrons to a potential store next door.
The O Street Market project, supposed to bring a 57,000-square-foot Giant is still years away as is the proposed grocery store for the parking lots at W Street and Georgia Avenue. Any potential grocer might fear an over-saturation of competition.
What amenities would you like to see in or adjacent LeDroit Park?