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Hill Talk: Competing Grocers Arrive Near H Street

The new Harris Teeter at First and M streets Northeast has not yet opened its doors to the public, but it already has a competitor: A Chevy Chase developing company will break ground this spring on a Giant supermarket just two blocks east and four blocks south of the grocer. 

Steuart Investment Co. plans to construct the 41,000-square-foot supermarket at Third and H streets Northeast near Union Station. The grocery will open in the spring of 2013.

Guy Steuart, vice president of the developing company, said in an interview that the new store will “anchor the west side of H Street corridor development” and will be the “only grocer on the trolley line.” 

“We’ve partnered with a grocer embracing smart development and top-quality customer service,” he said in a press release earlier this month.

Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells appears ecstatic about the new store.

“This is a great next step in the revitalization of the H Street Corridor,” he said in a news release Nov. 10. “I’m eager to see Steuart and Giant deliver on a vision that embraces the new streetcar and the proximity to Union Station.”

He cited new jobs as another reason to be excited about the grocer’s presence: “Much like we’ve seen with other grocers in Ward 6, these stores not only bring new shopping choices for a neighborhood, but they are also job generators that draw heavily from the immediate area.”

Over the past decade, D.C. councilmembers have created several initiatives to entice grocery stores to the downtown area.

The council passed legislation in 1998 that awards new grocers in the area a 10-year tax abatement, Steuart said. The Washington Business Journal reported that Steuart’s project will save $5 million in property and sales tax abatements over the next decade.

In 2005, the developing company began searching for a grocer to partner with and originally corresponded with Harris Teeter. But Harris Teeter owners rejected Steuart’s chosen location, instead taking property slightly north near the New York Avenue Metro stop. 

Harris Teeter will open its doors on Dec. 8., store manager Lisa Adams said. 

Steuart, who began negotiating with Giant two years ago and officially signed the contract with the Landover, Md.-based Giant grocer in late October, is not worried about competition from the Harris Teeter.

“Competition is a healthy thing — it makes you sharper,” he said. “There is room in the market for options.”

The store will be part of Steuart’s 290,000-square-foot LEED-certified development project, which will include 215 housing units as well as business rental space. 

The five floors of new apartment space will include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

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