H Street NE is not going hungry. A 41,000-square-foot Giant Food opened last month at the corner of 3rd Street. A Yes! Organic Market is reportedly coming to the former H Street Playhouse space at 1365 H Street NE. And I’ve been hearing recently from people in the know that a Whole Foods is coming to the 600 block of the street, on the site currently occupied by Murry’s grocery store and H St. Self Storage.
Trent Smith of Insight Property Group, which is developing the site, confirms that Insight has been talking to Whole Foods but says it’s too early to say what will come to the retail space. “We’ve talked to them, and we’ve talked to others,” Smith says. “I don’t know how it’ll turn out.”
At an April hearing before the Zoning Commission, Smith and Holland & Knight’s Christie Shiker presented Insight’s plan for the property, which encompasses most of the block bounded by H, I, 6th, and 7th streets. Or rather, Insight’s plans, plural: There was an original submission with approximately 453 residential units and 73,000 square feet of retail space, and there was a “grocery alternate” with 432 units and 96,000 square feet of retail.
Smith says Insight isn’t committed to grocery over other retail options. “We’re going to get the best fit for the project and the community,” he says.
The arrival of three new grocery stores (more than offsetting the loss of the smaller, lower-end Murry’s) on an 11-block stretch of H Street would be part of a broader grocery invasion in the east-central part of the city. It’s a welcome development as the area’s population surges, but it also raises questions of whether supply might be increasingly so quickly as to outstrip demand.
Still, Tony Goodman, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for nearby NoMa, says it’s good news for the neighborhood. Goodman’s heard that the Whole Foods at 6th and H is “happening,” but that if it falls through, other developers in the area have also been pursuing the store.
“It’s not really a question for H Street/NoMa of Whole Foods coming,” he says. “It’s which site are they going to go to? Which is amazing.”