Residents of Ivy City have long complained that their neighborhood is a dumping ground for city services that no one else will take. The most visible city investments are parking lots for garbage trucks and school buses, and a homeless shelter whose population spills out into the streets. The biggest news event there in recent years came in 2012, when the city drew protests and a lawsuit for trying to put yet another bus parking lot there.
And yet as of tomorrow, Ivy City—-median household income: $23,700; hemmed in by highway-like New York Avenue NE, railroad tracks, and a cemetery—-will be home to an organic supermarket. Mom’s Organic Market, with locations in Maryland and Virginia, is opening its first D.C. store, in the big new complex by Douglas Development at the site of the former Hecht Company warehouse.
Douglas had grand ambitions for the Hecht site; the company’s founder and president, Doug Jemal, predicted that it could become, for D.C., the next version of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, “the coolest part of town.” There was ample reason to be skeptical. Not only is the surrounding neighborhood small, isolated, and impoverished, but it’s also far from Metro and not easily accessible by foot or bike.
And Douglas’ bet that retailers would be enticed by lower-than-downtown rents, adaptive reuse of the old warehouse building, the ability to nab Maryland commuters, and ample parking appears to have paid off. Mom’s was the first retailer to sign on, last year. Planet Fitness is coming, too. Busboys and Poets, the harbinger of rising neighborhood fortunes, has been in negotiations to open a location there.
Mom’s doesn’t open until tomorrow, but here’s a sneak peak of what things look like on the inside:
Photos courtesy of Mom’s Organic Market