Mayor Vince Gray picked up a shovel this morning, and it wasn’t just for digging himself out of the PR hole left by this morning’s Post report that his campaign staffers may have improperly handled cash donations above the $25 legal limit.

Instead, the mayor used his shovel for a more immediate purpose: breaking ground on Steuart Investment Company’s 360 on H Street project, which will bring 215 apartments and a 42,000 square foot Giant grocery store in a LEED-certified package to the west end of H Street NE.

Gray said he felt personally connected to the new development, since he went to school at nearby Logan Elementary.

“Frankly, growing up in this neighborhood was a challenge,” he said. “We didn’t have very many amenities in this neighborhood, so to be able to see this coming is a special pleasure for me.”

The project is slated for completion in the spring of 2013, just before the street’s newly-delayed streetcar project is scheduled to get up and running.

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells joined Gray in praising the project, saying one of the keys to building a “livable, walkable” city is facilitating access to fresh food. Wells also called H Street “one of the hippest streets in America.”

Because nothing says hip like a big grocery store.

Photo by Nick DeSantis