D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday the District will use eminent domain to acquire the Capitol Gateway Marketplace site in Ward 7 and convert it into a Giant grocery store along with housing.
The marketplace site is located at the intersection of East Capitol Street and 58th Street in Northeast.
The D.C. Council authorized the use of eminent domain for the property in February at the request of the Bowser administration. Bowser then filed a complaint of condemnation in D.C. Superior Court to seize the land earlier this month.
At a news conference to launch the third round of the Food Access Fund grant program, Bowser said that the Giant Food corporation had committed to moving into the space. The grocery store chain will build a 55,000-square-foot store, according to a news release.
“Most people know I don’t like to use eminent domain. That’s when the government says we have to have the land for government use and it should be used sparingly,” Bowser said, “But I can’t think of a better reason than after we tried to un-stick this land from the people who refused to do what they said they were going to do.”
In a statement, UFCW Local 400, which represents Giant Food grocery employees in the D.C. region, said the store will “not only supply much-needed food access to the neighborhood, it will also provide good, union jobs with competitive wages, excellent benefits, and the guarantees and protections of a union contract.”
In January, the Bowser administration teased the possibility of a new grocery store in Ward 7. There are almost 81,000 residents living in Ward 7, but currently, there are only two full-service grocery stores there.
By using eminent domain to obtain the property, “the District will be able to address unsafe and unsanitary conditions, reduce food insecurity in the area, and bring jobs and opportunity to the community,” Bowser said.
A revitalization effort for the Capitol Gateway Marketplace property was first introduced in 2002, but Walmart, who was set to be the anchor tenant, walked away from the site in 2016.
In its statement, UFCW Local 400 said it believed that the big-box chain would not fulfill its promise to open a store in Ward 7, and “unfortunately for this community, it wasn’t long before we were proven right.”
“But thanks to the efforts of the mayor’s office and the city council, we are pleased to be welcoming a brand new Giant Food grocery store to this development,” the union said.
D.C. leaders said that without eminent domain, the location would likely sit vacant until 2037.
“By acquiring Capitol Gateway Marketplace, we can fulfill a long overdue promise and deliver a grocery store and retail to the community,” Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio said in a statement. “We have more work to do, but the finish line is in sight.”