More than 11 percent of Washington, D.C., is considered a food desert, a term which defines places where residents have to walk more than half a mile to get to a grocery store. The majority of food deserts in the city are found in Wards 7 and 8. Residents in these Wards are well aware of their lack of grocery options, as seen in the two-mile “Grocery Walk” hosted on October 14. Now, it looks like Mayor Muriel Bowser has made progress on bringing new grocery options to these Wards.
According to a press release published on PoPville, Mayor Bowser announced the awardees for the Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, which provides financial support for mixed-use projects in D.C. neighborhoods where unemployment is at 10 percent or higher.
The awardees include LDP Holdings LLC, who was awarded $2.1 million for its Penn Hill project located at 3200 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, and South Capitol Improvement LLC, who was awarded $880,000 for its South Capitol Affordable Housing project located at Atlantic and South Capitol streets SW.
The Penn Hill project, formerly known as the Penn Branch Shopping Center, will invest more than $10 million in private capital for base building renovations and tenant improvements as well as the redevelopment of the north parking lot into a grocer with retail and residential housing, according to PoPville. 400 construction jobs and 200 permanent retail jobs are expected to be created with this project.
The South Capitol Affordable Housing project will feature a buildout for the grocer tenant, Good Food Markets, as well as 195 units of affordable housing, 5,500 square-feet of community commercial space, a primary care clinic, an office building, and a 172-space parking garage.
In a statement, Bowser said, “The Neighborhood Prosperity Fund is an opportunity for us to infuse economic support into areas that need it most. Through these grants, we are being strategic about investing in projects that will improve the quality of life for residents—in this case, by bringing new jobs, services, and grocery options to the residents of Wards 7 and 8.”
PoPville further reported that Bowser announced $89,000 in grant dollars awarded through the Department of Small and Local Business Development’s Grown in D.C. Pilot Initiative, which will support urban agricultural systems in Ward 7, a Made In DC marketing course for food businesses, and the University of the District of Columbia’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences.