Construction begins for new market in Ward 8. (WI photo)
Construction begins for new market in Ward 8. (WI photo)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joined leaders and residents of the Bellevue community for the groundbreaking of a new fresh food market and affordable housing development in Ward 8.

The Good Food Markets, scheduled to open in late October, will be the tenant in a 225,000 square-foot development that includes 195 units of affordable housing and 5,500 square-feet of community commercial space.

The development, located at South Capitol and Atlantic streets SW, was made possible by an $880,000 grant provided by the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, an initiative launched by Mayor Bowser, to the South Capitol Improvement LLC.

“I’m excited that my second term as Mayor of Washington, DC is getting started the right way: by breaking ground on a much-needed new grocery store in Ward 8, increasing access to healthy food options east of the river and creating jobs for local residents,” said Mayor Bowser. “This project represents what we’re going to be focused on over these next four years – tackling the day-to-day challenges that residents face and, in doing so, improving the quality of life for more Washingtonians while continuing to plan for our future and the growth of our city.”

ANC 8D Commissioner Olivia Henderson, along with her ANC co-commissioners, worked with developers for two years to define the various aspects of the development, including a workspace for the ANC and the community. She called the groundbreaking a “wonderful day” because the development guarantees to serve the housing and employment needs of Ward 8 residents.

Good Food Markets, a mission-driven grocery redefining what is possible in food deserts, opened its first store on Rhode Island Avenue NE in Ward 5. Their experienced retail team creates a full-service grocery selection in a fraction of the space, while also paying a living wage and offering educational opportunities in the community.

“What they’re doing there on Rhode lsland Avenue is nothing short of a miracle,” said Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie, who praised the developers for ensuring local certified business enterprises (CBEs) were included on the construction project.

McDuffie also praised Good Food Markets for providing job opportunities to local residents.

“They hire from the community where they’re located,” he said.

Ward 8 Council member Trayon White, who grew up just blocks from the Good Foods Market, said he remembered when a strip of stores was located there including a Murray’s Steaks, Snyder’s and a liquor store all down to make way for the development.

The project will provide 100 percent affordable housing units, including units for the most low-income residents, and 20 units for the homeless, White said.

“This is the kind of project we like to see here and all across this city, and it is a quality construction project,” he added.

The Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, administered by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), supports mixed-use, real estate, or retail development projects in targeted census tracts where unemployment is at 10 percent or higher. The grants provide necessary gap funding for the commercial component of development projects and will help create job opportunities and new food options in Wards 7 and 8.

“We remain thoughtful in our efforts to drive economic growth in our underserved communities by investing in development that will create jobs and affordable housing for D.C. residents,” said Deputy Mayor Brian Kenner. “The Neighborhood Prosperity Fund is another tool to help us ensure we continue to provide our residents with the amenities they deserve.”

South Capitol Improvements LLC is a joint venture between CityInterests and Michaels Development Company. The project is the final development in an overall master plan that also includes a primary care clinic, an office building leased to the D.C. Department of Human Services, and a 172-space parking garage.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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