Five mayors of D.C., city planners and community activists have worked for decades to achieve what Mayor Muriel Bowser said is now official in Southeast: a new development offering housing and food options for residents east of the Anacostia River.
“As a community, we have waited a long time for this,” said Tiffany Brown, ANC commissioner for the Ward 7 neighborhood.
She stood in front of what will be the second phase of the Skyland Town Center at Alabama Avenue and Good Hope Road Southeast. Growing up in the neighborhood she now represents, Brown remembered seeing the Skyland shopping center go from utilized to an eyesore after investment in the retail tapered off.
“We as a community must hold the developers, the city and ourselves responsible for the success of this town center. This is our town center,” she said to an applauding crowd who gathered for the groundbreaking Monday.
“I am proud that this project will be an example for the rest of what we’re going to do in Ward 7 and Ward 8, and I am proud to be the mayor now, when we’re pulling it across the line,” Bowser said ahead of the groundbreaking.
The 263 affordable units at The Crest, now complete, will pair with the retail and restaurants in the Skyland Town Center, which include Roaming Rooster, Starbucks, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Mesa, CVS and Skyland Nails and Spa.
A Lidl supermarket will open as the anchor store in the fall of 2022.
“Three of the District’s 79 supermarkets are east of the river. That’s far too few,” said Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio.
He noted the mayor’s commitment to eliminating food deserts in D.C., with a goal of having a grocery store within walking distance of 95% of residents. Bowser has allocated $58 million of her proposed budget to the D.C. Council to a program her administration calls “Nourish DC.”
“Part of that $58 million is about $4 million to make sure that we fund what we call Nourish DC and … what that does is allows us to put grants and loans and technical assistance to small businesses right here in Wards 7 and 8,” he said about the program, for which the council has yet to approve funding.