Ward 7 residents and leaders say they’re thrilled that Lidl, a supermarket chain based in Germany with stores throughout the U.S. including Maryland and Virginia, will open its first store in the District at the Skyland Town Center located in the ward.
“This is absolutely fantastic,” D.C. Councilmember Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) said at the groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 8.
“We have worked long and hard to bring more grocery stores to Ward 7 and elsewhere on the East End of the District. Lidl will provide residents with more options and serve as an anchor to Skyland. The East End is a valuable market location for retail and hospitality providers. I am pleased that Lidl is investing in our community and leading the way,” he said.
Gray participated in the ceremony with city officials including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio, Ward 7 advisory neighborhood commissioners Tiffany L. Brown and Kelvin Brown, and corporate leaders from Lidl and Rappaport Companies, Skyland’s development company.
After many decades of lawsuits and delays, the Skyland Town Center came into fruition a few years ago with the support of the Bowser administration and the assistance of Rappaport,, W.C. Smith property management company, the Washington East Foundation, the Skyland Town Center Task Force and the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization. The town center features housing, retail and dining and will soon open the first Starbucks in the District to offer drive-through service.
Lidl started in Ludwigshafen, Germany in 1973. In 1990, it expanded beyond Germany to Europe and the U.S. Today, Lidl operates nearly 11,200 stores and employs 310,000 people in 32 countries with its U.S. headquarters based in Arlington, Va.
On Lidl’s website, the company said it wants “to offer customers the highest quality fresh produce, meat, baked goods and household products at unbelievably low prices.” Lidl officials say the Skyland store will open at the end of this year.
Gray’s legislation, The East End Grocery Store Incentive Act, has fueled the construction of full-service grocery stores like Lidl and offers co-anchor retail opportunities through the use of District government grants. The Bowser administration has undergirded the building of Lidl at Skyland with millions of dollars from specialized programs benefitting grocers and with tax incremental financing.
Lidl company officials say the Skyland store will have 445 employees with wages starting at $16.50 an hour and offer them the full range of employment benefits.
Carrie Thornhill, chairperson of the Washington East Foundation, praised the coming of Lidl.
“We did it Vince,” Thornhill said, looking at Gray who sat nearby. “I am so happy to be here to celebrate this occasion. We have persevered. Now the residents of Ward 7 will have options when it comes to not only going to the grocery store but dining and other retail.”
Earl Williams, the chair of the Skyland Town Center Task Force, echoed Thornhill’s enthusiasm.
“The coming of Lidl is an example of what happens when the community and developers work together,” Williams said. “Rappaport has been a wonderful partner. Both Bowser and Gray have worked diligently to get this done.”
Lidl and the Skyland Town Center, both located in advisory neighborhood commissioner Tiffany L. Brown’s 7B02 single-member district, represent a future with greater options for residents.
“As a matter of fact, I live a few hundred feet from here,” Brown said, pointing north to her house. “I can’t wait to walk over here to buy my groceries. We have waited for this a long time.”