A brand-new grocery store recently opened in Ward 8 with a community celebration welcoming Good Foods Market to its newest location at South Capitol and Atlantic Streets, Southwest.
More than 100 residents of the Bellevue neighborhood, and others who live nearby, stood in the drizzling rain on Saturday, Nov. 13, to witness the ribbon-cutting. The occasion allowed D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 8 Council member Trayon White and other city officials to announce additional economic development plans coming to Wards 7 and 8.
“This is hugely important because we know too many Ward 8 residents have to travel too far to get to quality food options with only one full-service grocery store,” Bowser said. “So, we need many more good food options to come to this ward.”
“What we’ve seen over the last 24 months is we need to do everything possible to ensure our residents have healthier lifestyles, food options and food access and we’ve been deprived for too long,” Bowser added.
Despite delays, anticipation never diminished for the store’s opening announced during a ceremonial ground-breaking before a similar crowd on a frigid day in January 2019.
“We faced challenges to try to get this project going,” explained John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
Through the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, an initiative launched by Mayor Bowser, South Capitol Improvement LLC received an $800,000 grant to ensure that Ward 8 had a Good Foods Market grocer.
“We had to keep pushing,” Falcicchio said.
The grant also supported a 225,000 square-foot development that includes a Community of Hope primary care clinic, an office building leased to the DC Department of Human Services and 190 affordable and supportive housing units.
In 2015, Good Food Markets launched their pilot location on Rhode Island Avenue in Ward 5 and opened a second location in Seat Pleasant, Maryland, later that year, in September. At 3,800 square feet, the Ward 8 location represents the region’s largest Good Food Markets location to date.
Bowser, who announced her plans earlier in the week to run for a third term as D.C. Mayor in 2022, took the opportunity to share her administration’s achievements and further plans to address the economic development disparities in Wards 7 and 8.
“We know that sometimes the government has to be first,” she said. “That’s why we looked at St. Elizabeth’s and went in there with $58 million to build the Entertainment and Sports Arena here in Ward 8. That was a seed that is starting to grow. Now, we have new housing for Ward 8 residents which people can buy and that they can afford,” she said.
“We are also going to have a brand new, state-of-the-art, transformative center for our men who are experiencing homelessness so they can get a fresh start. And, in a couple of short years, we’re going to have a brand-new state-of-the-art hospital right here in Ward 8,” Bowser announced to which those in attendance responded with shouts and applause.
On Mon., Nov. 8, Bowser announced nearly $9 million in grants through the $58 million Food Access Fund to provide funding that will support “eight local restaurants to open new locations in Wards 7 and 8.”
“This is part of a larger model to find good businesses that are doing good in other parts of the city and encourage them to open in Wards 7 and 8,” Bowser said.
The D.C.-based MLK Deli, located on Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Southeast, and Half Smoke, a sausage restaurant in Northwest, will soon be opening new restaurants in Wards 7.
“When we see a successful business in one part of the city, let’s invest in them and see them in another part of the city like Ward 8 that needs good food,” Bowser said.
Falcicchio announced the Nourish DC Fund, a program for small food operators, including those operating out of their homes, who want to see their businesses grow. The $1 million grant program provides grants, technical assistance and loans for businesses as they expand and need to employ more workers – many of whom come from the community.
In a press release, the FY22 Budget Support Act details a change to the Supermarket Tax Credit to focus eligibility to areas most in need of grocery stores, expand support to more fresh food retailers and add community engagement requirements for grocers. These investments prioritize equitable food access, particularly in Wards 7 and 8. As a result, more than 162,000 residents will gain food access points within one mile of their homes.
Kemi Morton, the Bellevue Neighborhood Association president, also welcomed the Good Foods Market to her neighborhood.
“If any neighborhood in Ward 8 has a Southwest address, it is in Bellevue,” she said. “We are so pleased to open the market to our neighborhood. If there is anything we can do to make this facility work, please let the Bellevue Neighborhood Association know. We’re here to help you.”
Officials announced the “good news” that Good Foods Market has already offered employment opportunities to several Ward 8 residents.