New Grocery Stores in D.C. Aiding Food Deserts

Twenty-one grocery stores have opened in Washington, D.C., since 2000 as a result of the District of Columbia’s strategy to provide access to healthy food to its residents. The majority of the stores include national chains such as Giant, Harris Teeter, Costco and Trader Joes, as well as several smaller urban stores including Aldi, Yes Organic Market and Fairlawn Markets.

“Washington, DC has undertaken a very aggressive approach to bring essential goods and services to the residents especially in those neighborhoods that lack retail services, including grocers,” said Keith Sellars, president/CEO of Washington, DC Economic Partnership, adding that the investment in grocery accounts for more than 800,000 square feet of new store space to date, and close to 600,000 square feet of space under construction.

“The expansion of grocers in the city is partly a response to residential growth but also the District’s strategic campaign to fill a void in our retail mix,” said Sellars. “Today there are eight grocery stores under construction and four additional stores in the pipeline.”

Harris Teeter opened two stores in 2008 in the Adams Morgan and Capitol Hill neighborhoods, and a third store in NoMa. A fourth store is under construction in the Capitol Riverfront, scheduled to open in 2014.

“DC is a natural market for our expansion based on its location, the growth underway and gaps in the market,” said Fred Morganthall, president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Harris Teeter. “DC like many urban cities had a real need for full service grocers and we saw an opportunity to become a fixture in many of the cities emerging markets.”

Many of the stores that have opened are part of new developments or redevelopment projects including a 55,000-square-foot Safeway on 4th Street; the 53,000-square-foot Giant store in Columbia Heights as part of the Tivoli Theater Redevelopment; and the 154,000-square-foot Costco at New York & South Dakota Avenue.

The recently opened stores have resulted in over 1,500 new jobs and have catalyzed other retail developments and housing developments in many of the corridors throughout the city.

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