12 Jun

Could a Whole Foods Finally be on its Way to Navy Yard?

Photo 1 Whole Foods

Speculation about whether and when a Whole Foods might land on or near Capitol Hill is a favorite pastime of many dedicated Hillites tired of traveling to Logan Circle or Clarendon to get their [insert favorite fresh and organic items] fix. Trader Joe’s hope and speculation is just as high. For anyone keeping score, you’ll know that all four DC Whole Foods stores and both Trader Joe’s (one existing, one under construction) stores are in Northwest.

And while I don’t begrudge a private retailer’s decision-making process for where to locate — read: lots of stats and formulas about income, density, and location convenience — I think I stand with a fairly large portion of the Southeast, Southwest, and Northeast communities in thinking It’s. About. Dang. Time. For. Some. Stores. On. Our. Side… right?

Photo 2 Whole Foods

Zoom forward to this week, when ANC 6D received a Board of Zoning Adjustment application for 800 New Jersey Avenue, SE — a proposed 11-story mixed-use residential and retail building developed by WC Smith just south of the Southeast Freeway and north of the under-construction Park Chelsea apartment building in Navy Yard. What distinguishes this development from others around it is the roughly 36,000 square feet single-use retailer proposed for the ground floor — listed in the application and the drawings as a “full service grocery store,” including a 2,300 square feet “brew pub.” (Yes, apparently a brew pub is now required on every corner. Neighborhood rules.)
Now, before the rumor mill wildfire starts spreading, I have to insert the caveat that no lease has been signed yet for the space. But here are a few reasons why this building might just be — fingers tightly crossed — the location of DC’s next Whole Foods:
  • Harris Teeter is already under construction a few blocks away at 4th and M Streets SE in the Twelve12 mixed-use complex, and a new Safeway is located just a few blocks across South Capitol Street in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood.
  • Whole Foods has been interested in the Navy Yard neighborhood for a few years — famously almost coming to the adjacent Park Chelsea building until that deal fell through in 2011.
  • This 36,000 square feet space isn’t likely to be a Trader Joe’s (typically between 10-15,000 square feet) or a Wegman’s (typically between 80-140,000 square feet). 36,000 square feet is the exact same size of the most recently completed DC Whole Foods store in GWU/Foggy Bottom.
  • And last but not least, the “Market” signage shown in the renderings is a recognizable forest green.
Photo 3 Whole Foods
So, while I definitely don’t think all this means that a Whole Foods is 100% coming to the neighborhood, it’s a great sign that hey, we really might be getting close this time, and that at the very least, another residential building and grocery store of some kind is on its way through the approvals process. More to come as I hear it!
David Garber is the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the Navy Yard neighborhood. Follow his up-to-the-minute updates on Facebook at www.facebook.com/votegarber and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/garberdc.

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  • taloisi

    Woo Hoo! Soon more people in DC can feel “special” and overspend for groceries at Whole Paycheck!

    • Karyn

      u r what u eat.

    • C_29

      It’s not about feeling “special”– Whole Foods carries a lot of things that the Harris Teeter, Safeway, and even Yes Organic don’t. Especially fresh organic produce and gluten free items. You can’t determine it’s overspending if the other stores don’t have equivalent items to compare prices against. As the person below noted, a nearby Whole Foods would actually save a lot of people money because they wouldn’t have to travel to other locations.

  • Karyn

    Imagine the time & fuel I’ll save by not leaving the Hill. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  • dcinsider

    I’d rather Trader Joe’s.