You already know about Trader Joe’s plans for 14th & U Streets next year. In Shaw the CityMarket at O project will bring a 60,000-square foot Giant that will be LeDroit Park’s closest full-service grocery store.
The project covers two city blocks bounded by 7th, O, 9th and P Streets. Construction is well underway and the construction company has installed a cellphone camera across the street to track the construction progress. Here’s a time lapse video of the project so far:
Is LeDroit Park a “food desert”? The phrase refers to a neighborhood where the nearest grocery store is more than a mile away. First, this metric would classify many of the tony precincts of Bethesda, Potomac, and McLean as “food deserts”.
Despite that, the metric isn’t entirely useless. Distance does matter greatly to populations who, for whatever reason, do not have cars. Groceries are heavy, after all.
Even still, WAMU’s recent characterization of LeDroit Park as a food desert is incorrect. In fact, you can plug in directions from Anna J. Cooper Circle, the neighborhood’s center, to the Giant at 8th and P Streets NW.
The distance? Under a mile. That’s about 15 minutes by foot.
In fact, if you’d rather take a bus, which we frequently do with groceries, the G2 runs every 30 minutes from LeDroit Park and along P Street. It passes not only the aforementioned Giant, but also the Whole Foods on the 1400 block of P Street. If you return in under 2 hours, the round-trip bus cost is $1.50.
This grocery store is slated to close soon so a new Giant, along with housing, can be constructed on the site. After that happens, the 3-year-old Safeway at 5th and L Streets NW and the 6-month-old Harris Teeter in NoMA will vie for the title as nearest grocery store. Each is exactly 1 mile away.
Furthermore, once the Howard Town Center project takes flight, it will feature its own grocery store. The project is about a half-mile from Anna J. Cooper Circle.
So there you have it. Within 1 mile of LeDroit Park one will find a Giant, a Safeway, and a Harris Teeter. That hardly qualifies the neighborhood as a food desert.
Developers of several large projects in Shaw adhere to the Macbeth method when promising groundbreakings: tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
But this summer is shaping up— keep your fingers crossed— to be a constructive one for Shaw. After decades of disinvestment, decay, and neglect, much of Shaw’s physical environment has already healed. Some star-crossed exceptions include the area around the Shaw Metro station’s north entrance, which emerges from the ground to a large empty lot, a row of boarded-up shops, a vacant Hostess factory, and a vacant theater. A terrible first impression of Shaw.
If action is eloquence, then the poetry begins in August.
August 22, 2010 – Howard Theatre
August 2010 – UNCF Headquarters
It seems like only yesterday Radio One unceremoniously withdrew from the Broadcast Center One project to be built at the Shaw Metro’s north entrance. Lo and behold, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) swooped in to fill the void. The District cemented the deal by offering UNCF $5.1 million in tax abatement and relocation subsidies. The project will include 50,000 square feet for UNCF’s offices, a college information center, as well as 180 (or 133?) housing units. Work on the project will also commence in August 2010 and finish sometime in 2012.
September 2, 2010 – O Street Market
Just down Seventh Street between O and P Streets is the shell of a Victorian-era market designed by German-born Washington architect Adolf Cluss. The project includes condos, apartments, senior housing, a hotel, parking, retail, and a new Giant to be built behind the extant walls of the old market (rendering above). The project will also re-establish Eighth Street NW between O and P Streets NW. Construction will begin on September 2 and the current Giant will close and be demolished early next year.
In 1950 the District opened a vehicular underpass allowing Connecticut Avenue to dive under Dupont Circle. The underpass, which still exists today, is flanked by two abandoned (and hidden) streetcar tunnels that sit behind each rusticated retaining wall. In March 2007, DDOT finished refurbishing the automobile underpass, but the city missed an excellent opportunity to restore the gashed avenue above.
Between Dupont Circle and Q Street, the underpass is “daylighted”— exposed to the sky— needlessly monopolizing space from the block’s active street scene.
Our solution for street reclamation is simple: cap the underpass for that one block.
Connecticut Avenue, for that one block, would become much like P Street or Nineteenth Street (on the north side) as they approach the circle. Each provides a travel lane and a parking lane in each direction— far different from the cramped and highway-like atmosphere on Connecticut Avenue.
The businesses along the block would benefit from sidewalks that will double in width as well as from easier access from the roadway, parking spaces and sidewalk on the opposite side of the avenue. The increased sidewalk space will relieve the pedestrian congestion on the sidewalks (particularly on the east side) and provide space for outdoor seating and for stores’ promotional placards. Pairs of facing street benches perpendicular to the avenue will provide more seating for shop patrons and passersby.
Furthermore, the ample, seamless space would provide another truck-accessible venue for weekend farmers’ markets or art sales and other events that a stodgy National Park Service may not permit in the circle itself.
Plans are already in motion to build over I-395 and the National Capital Planning Commission dreams of covering the E Street Expressway in Foggy Bottom east of the Kennedy Center. Compared to those proposals, this one is simpler, easier, and cheaper and would benefit more residents.
Update: We considered the idea of a medial park, but worried that it would suffer from desolation due to its separation from the active sidewalks. Though certainly better than the status quo, we suspect fewer people would want to sit in what is essentially a grassy street median. That said, it would certainly be cheaper to build— and money is no small matter in this case!
The advantage of our proposal above is that it enhances existing spaces (the sidewalks) whose heavy use warrants improvement.
Over in Shaw, the billboards at the intersection of Fourth Street, P Street, and New Jersey Avenue have been removed after the billboard’s owner, ClearChannel, reached an agreement with the District.
The Other 35 Percent details the billboards’ downfall. And there’s a video, too: (skip ahead to 2:30 and then to 4:25 to see the massive billboard crash to the ground.)