Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray (WI file photo)
**FILE** Ward 7 Council member Vincent Gray (WI photo)

District officials announced on Jan. 27 plans for a new grocery store to be built in Ward 7 on a vacant site located close to the Prince George’s County, Md., border.

The store would be located at the intersection of East Capitol Street NE and 58th Street NE, across from the Capitol Heights Metro Station in Capitol Heights, Md. 

Known as the Capitol Gateway Marketplace, D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) expressed enthusiasm about the new store’s prospects and said he will work to get the process for construction started immediately.

“Today, we are setting in motion a significant breakthrough in the long-stalled development of Capitol Gateway,” Gray said. “When this legislation is passed, we will be on the fast track to opening another new grocery store in Ward 7. Though the East End of the District remains underserved, we are making progress to eliminate food deserts and bring equity to residents of Wards 7 and 8 who live with far fewer grocery and shopping options than residents who live west of the Anacostia River.”

Gray noted the groundbreaking of the only Lidl store in the District last month that will be part of the Skyland Town Center located in his ward as another example of economic progress. 

“We will continue to find public resources and work with partners in the private sector to develop retail options and deliver amenities to residents in underserved neighborhoods,” the council member said.

Gray will work with the Bowser administration to have the D.C. Council approve seizing the land through eminent domain. When Gray served as District mayor from 2011-2015, he negotiated a deal with retailer Walmart to build a store on the land. 

In addition to Walmart, plans had been made for a sit-down restaurant and a mixed-use building with 312 residential units and 18,000 square feet of ground-floor retail uses. However, in 2016, Walmart abruptly withdrew from the project.

There’s has been no development of the land since then. Meanwhile, the closest full-service grocery store in the area, a Safeway located in Addison Plaza in Seat Pleasant, Md., closed in July 2016. Both District and Prince George’s County residents patronized the Addison Road Safeway.

The D.C. Department of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) said it has received a preliminary commitment from one of the largest grocers in the Washington metropolitan area to build and operate an approximately 55,000 square feet store that would serve as Capitol Gateway’s anchor. 

DMPED Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio said the new store will bring fresh food options to the far Northeast area.

“Providing access to fresh food and advancing delayed projects are top priorities for Mayor Bowser,” Falcicchio said in a statement. “Food justice is an emergency and together we need to take these immediate, bold actions to deliver it.”

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James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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