Dagger – Wegmans Deal “Doubtful” for Walter Reed

parks_at_walter_reed_rendering
Rendering via The Parks at Walter Reed

Just as they brought us beautiful words now the Washington Business Journal brings us painful words from a Wegmans spokesperson:

“We are doubtful that a deal will be struck.”

Updates when we learn who the new grocer will be.

Ed. Note: You can read about the plans for the Hines, Urban Atlantic, and Triden Group team to redevelop Walter Reed here.

82 Comment

  • Please be a Shoppers! They have such good prices and I love their international selection–they are the best for Passover stuff and for pupusas. And my wife likes their pastries.

    • Ugh…really? I’ve been in several Shoppers and they made me long for the horrible Piney Branch Safeway.

      • Shoppers is the worst. They win the award for most confusing store layouts ever. I think the only reason people shop there is because, like sbc said, they have a lot of international ingredients other stores don’t carry.

    • Veto shoppers. There is already one on New Hampshire Ave.

    • Well, you’re certainly easy to please.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Bummer. Meanwhile, still eagerly awaiting an update on Douglas Development’s plans for Georgia Eastern (at intersection of Georgia, Eastern, & Kalmia), a bit less than a mile north of the non-Wegmans. This development, which is years behind schedule and which I hope is still on but don’t know any more about, was said to include a Harris Teeter. If we get a Harris Teeter at Georgia & Eastern, that would in my opinion significantly soften the blow of not getting the Wegmans.

  • Ashy Oldlady

    That’s alright, it almost certainly would’ve been disappointing in size and/or quality compared to suburban locations. And it seems unlikely that they would’ve been able to secure the huge amount of parking that a grocery store this massive would require.

    • if safeway can do it in at city vista near chinatown and in petworth, then whatever store goes in here can do it as well. underground parking i would think.

      • City Vista has enough housing above it to support a grocery store and lots of people walking through the area. Walter Reed is a bit more remote.

        • uhhh, not sure about that considering the huge neighborhoods east, west, north, and south of walter reed plus the housing they plan on building AT walter reed

        • It’s only remote for those of you who don’t live here. The pioulation around Walter Reed is dense enough to support a grocery store and underserved enough to need one. We are tired of trying advocate for the Safeway down the street to improve, and heading all the way to Maryland to shop at Whole Foods is inconvenient for some, and economically impossible for others. Thankfully, the Walmart on Georgia fills some of the void but it has limited selection and management that rubs it like a third-works country.

          We NEED this Wegmans. If not that, then Trader Joes! (Absolutely not to the idea of Shoppers floated above!).

    • there is an existing underground parking garage on site. its one level and has at least 500 spaces if not more.

    • I think one of the primary reasons that Wegman’s was interested in the site was the existing underground parking (not many sites in the city have enough parking space for their model) and the existing (large) site footprint for the store (again, not many sites in DC will have this). The way I read the article was not the Wegman’s wasn’t interested in the site, but that they couldn’t agree to terms with the developer (I’m guessing this is a timing and lease cost issue). My hope is that the developer will decide to be flexible, because I don’t see any other grocery stores wanting to come. There is a Safeway a block away, a new Harris Teeter being built 1 mile away, a Giant 1.5 miles away and a Whole Foods 1.75 miles away. So unless one of those stores wants to move (Safeway might be the only one that makes sense), they are out of grocery chain options. Unless they do in another direction (Target?)

  • Khaaaaaaaannnnnnnnn!

  • The DC government is DC’s biggest enemy.

    • Yep. Just spend an hour at DCRA and you’ll see why it takes so long for businesses to open and developments to get construction permits.

      • You think Wegmans isn’t going to build a store in DC because they can’t figure out how to get permits from DCRA?

        • I’m responding to the statement that DC Government gets in its own way and makes development and new business open difficult for no reason. Read a POPville blog about businesses who keep delaying their openings – most are due to inspections (DCRA), permits (DCRA) and utilities (if it’s DC Water you need a permit).

          Wegmans will probably not open up a store here for many reasons. Maybe the market is over-saturated? Maybe DC is not in their near term planning? Maybe they just do not want to and are fine with the PG and Alexandria stores. Your guess is as good as mine.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Wegmans has also expressed some reservations regarding DC’s periodic proposals for nation-leading improvements in working conditions for hourly workers (e.g., minimum wage, scheduling regs, etc). Without comment on how I feel about those proposals, the fact that they keep cropping up could be a turn off for a business that presently is not here and is actively deliberating whether or not to come.

          • If you read the article it sounds like the issue is with the developer, not with DC (due to DCRA or due to new worker’s rights laws).

          • Anecdotally, there are way more people upset that the DC Government and Mayor are corporate shills who just want to hand out permits to greedy developers that donate to them. So I suppose their baseless grievances cancel your baseless grievances out.
            .
            The biggest hurdle to building things in DC is its most vocal residents.

      • justinbc

        I know plenty of business owners who’ve had their opening dates delayed repeatedly due to hangups at DCRA. But, presumably, those delays can be for legitimate concerns that inspectors and permit writers have for ensuring that things are done to code. We can all hope (against repeated evidence) that these measures are put in place to stop bad actors, but we certainly shouldn’t wish for less regulation, because then there’s absolutely nothing in place to prevent those who would skirt the system from acting against the interest of the public.

      • I’ve got to say, DCRA has gotten MUCH better on the homeowner side. I recently had a project permitted that included structural, plumbing and electrical permitting. I had all the permits approved within a few hours, no follow up required (save inspections later in the process).

  • Believe there is still a potential for Wegmans to come to Ivy City, also part of the Douglas Development efforts.

    • I had also heard that. I’m not sure if that is confirmed, or just based on speculation – one of Douglas Development’s renderings for the next Ivy City phase showed what was a blatant rip on Wegmans’ corporate architecture/front signage, so clearly they were suggesting that. My understanding is that the rendering was what got people talking about it. I think Douglas likes to start rumors about their retail prospects to build excitement/buzz (i.e., the Nike that was actually a factory store, the Ivy City Banana Republic that never materialized).

      That said, Wegmans might find that Ivy City location appealing, New York Ave has one of the highest traffic counts in the city and traditionally suburban retailers tend to value traffic counts very heavily when making real estate decisions.

      I would be surprised if parking were the barrier at Walter Reed, given the size of the site, but it is possible. Could be a similar problem in Ivy City. The issue with these suburban retailers is that, unless they develop a specific urban model, their corporate model requires a certain amount of parking that many city sites cannot provide (the reason it took so long to get a second Trader Joe’s, why we have so much parking at the CH Target – failing of a preliminary urban model for them, etc.).

      I think another possible contributing reason (not the only reason) might be DC’s recent pushback on large retailers to pay more, provide better/more advanced scheduling for employees, and possibly pay parental leave. I totally agree with all these measures, BTW, just saying that could also have been a factor in Wegmans’ decision.

      • Highly doubt Ivy City given the Mom’s that just opened there.

        • The Mom’s and prospective NewCityDC development site aren’t that close together in theory. Not sure when/why anyone decided to start branding the latter Ivy City at all; Arboretum seems to be a more justified label for that area. Anyway, whether they’re too closetogether depends entirely on future development; the space between the two is mostly urban wasteland right now, but could physically handle a lot of housing if zoning/market mechanisms allow.

  • Serious bummer. I wonder if Whole Foods in considering putting their lower-cost version (365 by Whole Foods) into this space.

  • I cried when I saw the developer that didnt partner with Wegmans had won a few years ago. I cried again this morning when I read the WBJ article. I hate to sound so dramatic but a Wegmans would have really made our neighborhood stand apart. I’m sure the people living in the 432 affordable housing units will be trying to find food they can afford at a Whole Foods now instead of an affordable and fantastic grocery store. RIP Wegmans…
    PS. I’d love to know if DC government played any part in these negotiations. I have a feeling they more important things to do. Like ignore crime. Build subsidized housing. Force DC employers to pay a minimum wage that disproportionately benefits the surrounding states over DC. Ignore rampant fraud in DCPS (we’re educating more kids than the DC school age population. ie… people are taking advantage of DC’s generous headstart progam). I love this city but honestly our leadership is as bad or worse than our federal leadership capital hill. PoP thanks for a place to rant!

  • I Dont Get It

    Can this day get any worse?

  • justinbc

    Out of curiosity, as someone who’s never been to Wegman’s, what exactly do they offer that you can’t get at Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Trader Joe’s, or Costco? (all currently in DC)

    • As someone who’s been to Wegmans several times, I have no idea.

    • palisades

      it feels like walking into all of those at once…

    • Wegmans is based in New Jersey, and they have an incredible selection of in-house produced italian foods, sauces and other deli goodies. Also homemade pies and other pastries that can be baked at home. When I worked near a Wegmans I used to keep my freezer stocked with their foods. One time I walked out with a really nice microwave for $40. You just never know what you will find there.

      • Actually Rochester, NY. But yeah, great Italian foods; excellent subs. I was just visiting my parents in Rochester for a long weekend and I think I found an excuse to go there about 5 times.

    • People shop there because they treat their employees very well. It’s constantly being rated one of the best places to work.

      • +1000 The customer service in Wegmans is amazing. People actually like working there as opposed to other grocery stores I know..

    • I second palisades, Wegman’s has nearly everything that all of these stores carry, in one place. Plus, the stores are clean and pleasant, the employees are friendly (and well-treated), and I’ve never seen a long checkout line.

    • This sounds like an In and Out burger sort of thing, where when you finally go there you realize it’s still just fast food.

      • Ashy Oldlady

        No, it really is better than all other grocery stores. The selection is unparalleled. They’re huge. And their prepared foods/deli/bakery are a step above every other store.

        • absolutely agree. Wegmans is the best of the best.

        • I don’t get why people are saying the stores are huge like it’s a good thing. I like grocery stores that sell everything I need, and nothing else, so I can get in and out quickly!

          • Unless you have a personalized grocery store (or very generic tastes) I feel like this business model is untenable.

          • I guess my tastes are generic then? I personally don’t get anything more out of a huge grocery store than I do a small one. Maybe people who buy a lot of pre-made and packaged food feel differently.

          • Hey some people want to have access to 100 kinds of chocolate chip cookies instead of 10, even if it means their shopping trip takes three times as long.

    • I go to Wegmans a lot… it’s as if Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Costco had a baby. They have the organic, healthy, local vibe that WF and TJ’s do… but they also have a lot of the Wegmans brand in-house foods with chefs in the store like Costco (except healthy/organic). They offer the same great healthy options with prices being reasonable and they are not crazy expensive that I find in Whole Foods. They are also hugggee.. to get from one end of the store to the other takes a while – huge seafood/meat section w/ live crabs, lobsters… cheese section has chef there w/ vide variety of cheeses. I need a Wegmans in DC! It’s such a great place.

      • I completely agree with the baby concept!
        Where I moved to, we have a Wegman’s nearby. We shop there about once a month as a sort of treat wince we both love grocery shopping so much. What I like about them are the bakery – better and cheaper than Whole Foods, plus they do not use artificial colorings; the seafood selection is huge; the quality of the meats is excellent as well as the variety of organic/free range meats; the fact that they sell a huge variety of products as well as bulk items; the staff are really awesome.
        I have not found the prices at Wegman’s to be much different from Whole Foods. They do have a loyalty card, but it’s not like Giant or Safeway’s card and doesn’t really give you any great discounts. I feel spoiled now, the other grocery store near me is frequently referred to as the “Gucci Giant.” Could not be more opposite to that of the Columbia Heights Giant!

    • they offer EVERYTHING that all those stores have but under one roof plus more fresh food, make up, skin care etc…

    • HaileUnlikely

      I go to Wegmans when I visit relatives in Pennsylvania. I agree with Kathryn and Effie, below, and I would love to have a Wegmans in DC (and really love to have one 4 blocks from my house as this would have been), but if the above-referenced Harris Teeter at Georgia & Eastern happens, I’d be plenty happy with that and not shed too many tears over Wegmans.

    • Wegmans has everything that’s good about Whole Foods (high quality produce, good customer service, attractive store aesthetic, lots of imported gourmet items) at a cheaper price tag and with a lot more variety. It’s the only grocery store I’ve ever been to where you can buy cave-aged raw-milk cheese from an artisan farm in rural California for like $13 a pound and also get generic brand toilet paper and cheezits for the same price you’d pay at costco.

  • Having a Wegmans accessible by metro or bus is a dream of mine.

  • So how about the streetcar in that rendering – also dead?

    • very close to dead. the line up georgia to walter reed and/or silver spring was always supposed to be the second line after completing the h-street-k street-georgetown line. right now, they’re studying the h street extension down k street to georgetown. given the influence of the georgetown bid, and the need for a good crosstown line, that one seems likely. if they can manage to implement the very simple, fundamental design aspects of successful streetcars (which somehow the h street line did not), then maybe, just maybe, there would be some political will to build the georgia line.

      • That’s really too bad, cause once all these developments are done and people move in the traffic will be a nightmare on 16th & Georgia, if it isn’t already. Both corridors should have bus-only lanes and express buses on those lanes, at the very least. The current bus lanes that are going to be put in on 16th don’t cover that part either.

        (Will they reconnect the grid as a part of the development?)

        • Agreed! Traffic will be a nightmare, and the character of the neighborhood will change too. Mixed blessing, for sure!

      • Agree with this; it really depends on the rest of the existing line. Given how badly the nonstandard design choices went the first time around, I guess I’m optimistic that they’ll do a better job on the expansion and therefore that the worth of streetcars will be proven? I dunno. I bet some kind of mass transit lines up Georgia, Rhode Island, and New York Aves will happen eventually; just have no idea when.

  • Did they release a date that they’re starting construction at Walter Reed? Or are we still on the zoning, permits, and community outreach stage?

    • Some stuff is already happening. I walk by daily and there are workers on site. I believe the State Department now owns their parcel and is doing work related to that.

      None of the Hines construction has started, nor do I think a date has been announced.

  • Frankly, I don’t care what big box grocery store they put in there – when are they going to start developing the darn thing? I’ve been hearing about this new development paradise since 2011. Everything is just sitting up empty. There’s a glimmer of hope with the groundbreaking of the new fire station but that’s technically across the street. So what gives – when can they start clearing the way for the things that could come in. And whatever happened for the plan for new embassies to be built on part of the land?

  • You know, the only thing that would make this news ok is if H Mart decided to open here instead. That would frankly make me happier than either Wegmans or Whole Foods (esp WF given there’s already one of those 1 mile away in Silver Spring). I’m kinda hoping tho that this is a negotiating tactic for Wegmans and the deal isn’t dead dead yet.

  • Curious as to the pricing of the residential town homes. On the mailing list and no updates have been sent regarding the housing offerings.

    • For comparison, there is a new condo development across the street (Georgia and Elder) which lists the prices at “starting in the 300s)”

      I believe Walter Reed is supposed to have some affordable housing but it may be targeted (i.e. specifically for veterans).

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