A while back, before I started this blog, I had a fleeting thought about starting another blog. It would cover one subject: the Giant grocery store in Columbia Heights, and patrons that complained about it. The blog would be much like “Overheard in New York,” publishing statements from unsuspecting whiners. I wouldn’t have to do much work, I would just go to the Giant once a week as I usually do, stand in line, and wait for the inevitable gripe.
Pretty soon lots of people would be pitching in with their overheard comments! “This milk will have gone bad by the time I get out of here!” “I’ve probably gotten three parking tickets just waiting in this line!” “Screw it—-I’m out, I’d rather starve.” Then, people would get tired of reporting the same thing…and the blog would die. The End. The point I’m getting at here is simple: D.C. is hurting for more full-service grocery stores especially in the Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant/U Street/Shaw/Bloomingdale/Park View area.
In Northwest, east of 16th Street and south of the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro, there are only three Giants and Safeways—-the aforementioned Columbia Heights Giant on Park Road, the Shaw Giant on 7th Street, and the new Mount Vernon Square Safeway on 5th Street, which opened on Sept. 12. And if it seems like the squeeze will be relieved, well it’s only temporary. If planning stays on schedule, the Shaw Giant will be shut down fall 2009, and likely be closed for roughly two years. The new facility will be built into the O Street market, and be part of a massive new multi-use property, including condos, apartments, a hotel, and retail space. Roadside Development is at the helm of the project, entitled “CityMarket at O.”
“When we start construction, the first thing that closes will be the Giant,” says Armond Spikell of Roadside Development. But for those die-hard Giant fans (not to mention elderly people who can’t get around to well), Spikell says there will be a shuttle. “It will go either to the [Giant in Columbia Heights] or the one out in Brentwood. It will be a couple of times a week, and if people ride the shuttle, we’ll continue until the new store opens…I picture it as one of those 20 passenger things. If there’s that much demand and that’s not big enough, I’m sure they’ll get something bigger. I’m kind of thinking it will make stops somewhere around 7th and N, then around O street and maybe Asbury Dwellings on Rhode Island Ave. and then go onto the store. Two or three stops.”
Thankfully, the new Shaw Giant sounds like it will be worth the wait. The new Giant “will have expanded offerings of prepared foods, and also non-grocery items,” says Spikell “If you need a dog leash, it will probably sell it” in addition to “household things that you’d probably find at a hardware store…” It will be 71,000 square feet—-in other words, ABSOLUTELY HUMONGOUS. The Mt. Vernon Safeway, which looked pretty damn colossal to me, is only 58,000 square feet.