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Which Neighborhood Would Most Support an Upscale Grocer Very Similar to a Marvelous Market?

by Prince Of Petworth December 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm 103 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user Max Resnick

A commercial real estate broker has a client who is planning on opening an upscale grocery store (approximately 2000 square feet) with a very similar set up to a Marverlous Market. They are committed to opening up the store in DC but they haven’t yet decided exactly where they’d like to open. So I offered to poll PoPville. The neighborhoods they are considering are Hill East, Columbia Heights, Petworth, Logan Circle/Shaw, Navy Yard, and H Street, NE.

Which neighborhood do you think would most support this type of store?

  • Ea

    4th and q nw has good space

    • ShawMolly

      4th and Q is a great idea and it’s an under served area.

  • Anon

    IMO, maybe Columbia Heights? Something not too residential, as it seems to me the Marvelous Markets do well in business areas where people go for breakfast/lunches/coffee breaks…

    • Anonymous

      Without a doubt, Columbia Heights

      • Commercial space in the Park Place building (By Georgia & New Hampshire Ave) has been vacant for years now, I think a coffee shop/deli would be better as an idea there than another grocery store, but with the Safeway under construction until 2015, now would be a good time to start something in the area. A place like Wagshall’s would be even better… There are plenty of large warehouse properties around this area as well, and parking is still fairly possible, making things more convenient for the target audience. The store doesn’t necessarily need to be located directly in a specific community, it just needs to be accessible.

        • dat

          Agreed about the space in the Park Building. If a small grocer were to come in there, they’d have a real leg up while Safeway construction is ongoing and probably get a lot more customers than they otherwise would.

          • +1.

          • Anonymous

            yes! that building has tons of space and lots of foot traffic passing by. the residents of Petworth WANTA

          • fz

            Yup. Park building would be a great location.

          • Anonymous

            Yes, nice spot with good foot traffic

      • Art
        • Wow, that’s good news! I freakin’ love Olive Garden despite what people say about the place… That building also needed a makeover big time.

          • Prince Of Petworth

            I’m pretty sure the Olive Garden is no longer pursuing this location.

          • dcd

            Yes, good news indeed. Now DC doesn’t have to take a back seat to Grand Forks, North Dakota when it comes to fine Eye-talian dining.

    • ppp

      are there a lot of yuppies in columbia heights durring the day? where are large employers in that area?

      • Dartagnan

        There are lots of employers in Columbia Heights, thats where I work! For example, in the tivoli building there are many offices, including DC government offices. The area also has park services headquarters, many non-profits and social services, health care offices, law offices, etc.

  • dcgirl53

    I support Brookland

  • waterfront

  • Mike

    Marverlous Market is a grocery store?!?!?

    • Anonymous

      If being able to buy gourmet crackers, a pint of milk and a single serving of pasta salad makes something a grocery store, then yes. By any other reasonable definition, no.

    • Anon’y

      In NYC, it would be a larger-than-average deli. Except its not as good because it doesn’t even have a deli counter! Oh vey!

  • melb

    H St, pretty please!

  • Anonymous

    It’s not on the list, but perhaps should be: Brookland.

    Check out the large, upscale Monroe Street Market project, now under construction. Nearly 700 units, with ground-floor retail. Add in Chancellor’s row, the EYA townhome development, just a few blocks away … and, it’s obvious, Brookland is happening place.

    But perhaps the best reason to locate a market of this type in Brookland is the competition. There is none!

    http://www.hrretail.com/PDF%5CProperties%5CMonroe%20St%20Market%20MB%2002-29-12eAP.pdf

    http://www.eya.com/Chancellors_Row_at_Brookland_Metro

  • Anon’y

    From a purely business standpoint, I would think H Street or Hill East would be safer bets. Both areas are desperately under-served and should have lower start-up costs, due to cheaper real estate. I think those areas would support an “upscale” grocery, however Dean & DeLuca prices would be unsustainable.

    I think Coulmbia Heights is the worst option. Too much competition in the area and the rents are spend’y. I think it might work in the East Shaw area, but Logan Circle is a bad bet, especially with the new Teeter and TJs being built.

    Navy Yard is a gamble but could pay off big in the long run.

    • I agree with your assessments of Hill East and H Street. Both are up-and-coming and neither appear to have much competition on the horizon. But the Potomac Ave neighborhood is certainly well-served by the Harris Teeter and the north-west part of H Street is probably setting up patterns with Union Market.

      I’d think finding a decent location on the south end of Shaw would be profitable. Could complement the new O Street Giant, which will still suck because, well, it’ll be a Giant. And there seems to be a growing business presence along 7th and 9th streets in the few blocks north of NY Ave to make for daytime foot traffic.

      • Anonymous

        Definitely Shaw! Maybe 9th and U/T NW? There is a lot of need for a small grocery store there and there are plenty of people with money.

    • Anonymous

      Rents on H Street aren’t spend’y?

  • What does an “upscale grocer” sell that one can’t find already in our existing grocery stores, Whole Foods, farmers markets, ethnic stores, Dean & Deluca and quirky places like Rodmans?

    • DF

      Because every neighborhood has one of those already?
      I’d love on in CH (still shaking my fist at Ellwood Tompsons!) but I think somewhere on the Hill might be best. Logan already has a Whole Foods.
      Dupont might not be a bad option, but rent there is insane (~$90-100 sq/ft).

      • Rich

        They’re in Dupont, right off the circrcle, and have been for 20 years. That probably was the first location.

  • Anonymous

    chinatown

  • JusjasWashington

    East Shaw

    • megan

      Yes! East Shaw/Mount Vernon Square area. Save us from the Safeway!!

      • Anonymous

        I second that. In general, the east end: Penn Qurater, soon to be City Center and Mt. Vernon Triangle need something like this.

  • Anonymous

    Shaw, especially eastern parts

  • Anonymous

    11th Street Shaw/Logan

    • You dont’ consider Capitol Supermarket upscale? Tisk tisk.

      • Anon

        Oh Capitol Supermarket is the creme de la creme!

  • Anonymous

    Hill East

  • wylie coyote

    If they want a mix of residential and daytime foot traffic, somewhere between NoMa and H St.

    Not sure how much retail space is available in NoMa.

    H St supports our local businesses and we have a lot of 100K+ households south of H.

    Daytime traffic appears limited to folks coming to H for a haircut or new shoes, though. Not exactly the MM demo.

    • wylie coyote

      They might also want to get in on the ground floor of one of those forthcoming Navy Yard developments. I think that area is primed for the fastest growth in the city.

      And this is from someone heavily biased towards H St. LOL.

  • Anonymous

    Petworth needs an upscale grocer! The stinky safeway is getting rebuilt, and there’s a Yes Orgaince. Studies have shown vibrant neighborhoods have at least 3 different types of groceries to meet everyone’s neesds. Starter housing is still affordable and the renovated houses now sell for $600k. I rent in CoHi on the edge but when I’m ready to buy I’m going to Petworth.

  • Anonymous

    You’re all just naming your own neighborhoods…

    • And? Nothing wrong with wanting something good in your neighborhood.

      Strange comment.

  • Rich

    They’ve closed some locations and seem to do better some places than others. Mostly, they do best with a brisk lunch or commuter trade, esp. where there aren’t a lot of comeptitors: far West End, Conn & Nebraska. they don’t seem as popular in Dupont as they once did, but they do have a distinctive niche. Someplace like the O St development might work. Brookland might work, as might Hill East.

  • anon

    I have never understood marvelous market. It doesn’t seem to be a grocery story, and it doesn’t seem to be a lunch spot. Is it just a really bad excuse for a bakery that tries to pass itself off as a grocery store to make up for the fact that they don’t actually care about the product? I hope my neighborhood, which has been mentioned several times above, doesn’t get one. But, I really would love to see a small, upscale grocery.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for putting my feelings about MM into words. Every couple of months I need to pick up breakfast or lunch on my way into work, go into MM, and leave empty handed because absolutely nothing is appealing or I can’t find a combo of items I could turn into a snack or light meal (e.g crackers but no cheese).

    • I’ll definitely second your comments on MM. Never have understood how they stay in business considering their baked goods are average at best, their selection of “gourmet” items is paltry, and their staff really couldn’t care less about customers. Plus the one time I had coffee there, it tasted horrendous.

      Hasn’t MM ownership changed several times in the past 6-8 years? I thought Mark Furstenberg started it, then Balduccis bought it, now it’s owned by some local investors? Somehow it must make money for somebody, but I couldn’t begin to guess why.

      • otberbur

        When it first opened in the 1980s (its original location was the one at Connecticut & Nebraska), MM’s bread was considered so good people stood in long lines for it and it was rationed. MM continued to sell very high quality bread, baked goods, and prepared salads in the 1990s and to the middle of the 2000’s. Changes in focus and ownership since then has dragged down the quality of its goods considerably; one can now get better quality baked goods and salads at Whole Foods. Nevertheless, MM largely retains its premium price points. How it retains its customer base is more of a mystery.

        • raychelle

          I live near the Conn Ave/Nebraska one. Unfortunately, it’s the only place in the neighborhood where you can get bakery stuff and/or lunchy type stuff. I find it to be a really depressing place.

      • I don’t get the appeal of MM either. It’s definitely nothing special.

  • Mount Pleasant — you get people from Mt. P, it’s close for Columbia Heights folks, and Crestwood folks

    • WalbridgeGuy

      To be honest, I don’t think it’d work very well in Mt. Pleasant, even if they were considering it. I imagine it could do okay on the weekends but I really don’t think you’d get much business during the weekday at all.

  • I think Logan/Shaw makes the most sense for immediate clientele but with the trade off on higher rents.
    Navy Yard with all the new development would be great – even better if you could get in on the ground floor (no pun intended) with cheaper rent.

    A lot depends on what you are offering at this grocery? Marvelous Market fails at what is a needed niche – healthy, tasty prepared dinners. Think of something like what Schele’s was in Georgetown or Broad Branch Market in Chevy Chase.

  • I walked into a Marvelous Market (Penn & 24th NW) one evening and it didn’t seem any different than any of the other generic downtown deli/lunch by the pound kind of places. Am I missing something here? Do people consider this an upscale grocery store? Do I need to give these another chance?

  • Matt

    Is this different from the “upscale grocer” going into the new building at 14th and Belmont NW? Or are they rethinking that location? I think it would be good for them, very close to CoHi, U St, and a TON of new, expensive apartments.

  • Logan Circle/Shaw area but far enough away from Whole Foods. There is a pretty run down grocery store on 11th street between M and N that could be transformed into an upscale market. There are enough residents and foot traffic in that area that would make it a good location.

    • Anonymous

      Please leave Capitol Supermarket alone. For those of us making less than 40K/year, living with four roommates and paying off our student loans, Capitol Supermarket is the only local establishment that offers a decent quality produce and meat at a low price. So I beg you, leave us our Capitol Supermarket. It may not be as pretty as a Balducci’s or a Dean and Deluca, but it has a role in the neighborhood that would be unfilled if the space were taken over by Marvelous Market or some other upscale retailer.

      • +1

        Walk to Whole Foods if you want Whole Foods. It’s really not that far.

      • Well said. Nice owner and the store serves the neighorhood well. Might look like crap on the outside, but it does provide a much needed service (cheap groceries).

  • Anonymous

    At what point do we have so many “upscale grocers” that we start demanding a discount grocery store like Aldi in NW?

  • Anonymous

    i live in colombia heights, but i think its obvious that the dupont side of logan circle would be best.

    in fact, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, right next to whole foods would be the best place from a business persepective.

  • beabeth

    if you build it, they will come —– How about Petworth North? There’s plenty of great retail on Kennedy Street (one at 5th and Kennedy, specifically). The street isn’t much right now, but a new, upscale grocery could definitely be supported. There are plenty of yuppies up there, waiting to spend $$ on groceries.

    • Anonymous

      Yes Organic is already there

      • Anonymous

        Yes! Is way south of there

  • Someone else mentioned Navy Yard and I have to agree, I interned down there for a summer in 2009 and there were essentially three places to get lunch and one for breakfast, and they were always slammed. It seems like it would do great breakfast and lunch business down there and also gives an option for people to pick up something on their way home.

    I live near H st. and Hill East and think spending more money on good food is worth it, but I wouldn’t buy things from a MM if it were in my neighborhood. I imagine it could never beat the prices I get for general groceries, and I don’t need specialty jars of $12 pasta sauce of whatever I imagine MM sells. There also aren’t a ton of people around there for lunch (why I imagine a place like Crepes on the Corner went out of business). I DO think the area needs a small grocery wtih good prices where you could buy most everything you’d need to cook a meal.

  • Matt

    I mean, how upscale is this? A place like Balducci’s could probably have success around Logan Circle/P St, to meet everyones 75/oz osetra caviar needs

  • k8te

    I think Petworth would definitely benefit – specifically, the Kennedy Street corridor.

  • Phil

    I thought an “upscale grocer” was coming to Capitol View on 14th??

  • E in Rosedale

    Hill East/Rosedale has a lot of pent up demand. There’s a great small space available at the corner of 15th&D NE. At a bus stop, near H, at the edge of Hill proper, and across from the upcoming Far East Taco brick & mortar location.

  • Capitol Hill East or H Street. I live in Stadium Armory now and there is NOTHING there.

  • Anonymous

    Logan Circle/Shaw

  • Kim

    I’d vote for H Street NE or Hill East. The rents are comparatively cheap and there is zero-to-no competition, with a large — and every day expanding – clientele base.

  • Ryan

    Logan/Shaw…specifically 1547 7th Street NW. Near tons of new apartments/condos and retail in 2013/2014…

  • Why not the Fort Totten or Brookland area? There are some great new developments coming to that area.

  • Wait, since when is Marvelous Market a grocer?

  • Anonymous

    14th between Crittenden and Decatur

    • + a million. Like in that nasty old furniture store.

  • Stine

    If they could ever fill all those new luxury apartments coming in near 14th and U – theoretically there will be a lot of wealthy people there…. heavy emphasis on the if and theoretically.

    • KC

      There’s already Smucker Farms and Yes Organic there.

  • I. Rex

    Here’s a vote for Hill East. There’s some great spaces near Payne Elementary on 15th Street that could work.

  • Navy Yard or Waterfront!

  • Liz

    Definitely Hill East. Would be perfect for the new development planned near the Stadium Armory Metro or in one of the commercial spots on 15th Street SE.

  • rstu

    Instead of the horrible grocery store on New Hampshire Ave in Petworth (next to the cemetery).

  • Anacostia between two housing projects. It will revitalize the area.

  • I’d vote for Navy Yard. Has a mix of lunchtime office workers and all the residents in those huge apartment buildings for the evenings. Plus, there’s little competition.

  • bb

    Progression Place @ 7th/Georgia between T and S. Tons of foot traffic in a very under-retailed (and specifically under-groceried) area. The retail spaces which are nearing completion are just the right size for a Marvelous Market. Or there’s also that space across the street from the under construction Wonderbread factory that they’ve been trying to convert into something. Or (and I’m sure I’ll get flamed for this) how about in the space currently occupied by Log Cabin Liquors?

  • Lisa

    Defnitely Petworth area, near Columbia Heights. Tons of people with disposable income here and moving to the area that want more options than the small, expensive Yes on Georgia and the always-packed Giant on 14th.

  • Repeating Anonymous 10:25: how ’bout 16th St Heights, like on 14th across from the bus depot? Lots of locals would definitely patronize it, and it’s really a growing commercial area.

  • PK

    Marvelous Market is terrible! My vote is Palisades even though we already have an MM – the neighborhood would support it.

  • Anonymous

    Do they have ward-by-ward numbers? That’s what people really want.

  • If you put it on H street I will single-handedly spend enough there to pay your rent. Seriously. I live in Trinidad and need a place to get a good breakfast sandwich that isn’t Union Market! My other interests include pre-packaged sushi, craft beer, and expensive coffee drinks. I know Marvelous Market has all those things and I miss the one in Georgetown I used to frequent. PLEASE come to H street!

  • Anonymous

    Hill East. Under-served, and with a large-and-growing population of potential customers, including stay-at-home moms. A lcation near the Metro could garner commuter traffic (folks grabbing groceries on their way home from work).Yes, there’s the Harris Teeter and Safeway, but they aren’t upscale, or gourmet. Even better would be a gourmet grocery with a small take-out/eat-in area for upscale sandwiches and coffee.

  • RANdom Walkway

    Brookland!

  • I still don’t know what “upscale Grocer” even means. What do you sell that I can’t get elsewhere? Why would I go to you instead of somewhere nearby? Not ragging on your idea – just honestly curious. I can buy fresh organic arugula at Target. Any particular/peculiar need (most recently – Lyles golden syrup) is a very occasional purchase.

  • Evi

    I would say Penn Quarter- I realize it’s not in the mix. But there isn’t a grocery store (unless you count CVS for your must needs) less than a mile away.

  • M.E.

    Takoma!

  • Anonymous

    Oh please for the love of god come to Shaw Metro stop.

  • Anonymous

    completely agree with shaw, near the metro/library would be a great location!

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