The Whole Foods market in Glover Park will reopen after a three-year closure, following a legal battle between the store and its landlord.
Whole Foods and Wical Limited Partnership, the owner of the store’s space at 2323 Wisconsin Ave. NW, filed to settle the legal dispute in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Feb. 19. The settlement, for an undisclosed amount of money, allowed Whole Foods to move forward with planned renovations to their Glover Park location, which was previously prevented by a contract stipulation.
While the exact timeline of the renovation process is unclear, neighbors are eager for the store to reopen, according to Brian Turmail, chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B, the local government body that represents the Glover Park neighborhood.
“I have no idea how long it will take for Whole Foods to secure renovation permits, conduct their renovation and reopen,” Turmail wrote in an email to The Hoya. “From our point of view, the sooner, the better.”
The grocery chain is pleased to come back to Glover Park, according to a Whole Foods spokesperson.
“We are thrilled to announce that Whole Foods Market will be returning to Glover Park. We will be completing a remodel of the store before reopening our doors, so stay tuned for more details on timing,” a Whole Foods spokesperson told DCist. “We look forward to returning to serving the community we’ve been part of for more than 20 years.”
The dispute between Whole Foods and Wical began in 2017 when a rat infestation led to two shutdowns of the grocery store by the D.C. Health in just two months. When the Washington, D.C. health department gave the store permission to reopen, management decided to keep the store closed to undergo remodeling, triggering the first complaint from Wical.
The owners claimed this shutdown violated the terms of Whole Foods’s lease, which stipulated that the grocer could not shut down for more than sixty days. The planned renovation would have exceeded the 60-day limit.
Whole Foods argued it was not in violation of its agreement by invoking a clause that would allow for a prolonged shutdown if there were extenuating circumstances beyond its control, such as “acts of god, strikes, lockouts, labor troubles, plan approval delay.” The store classified the two rat infestations that led to the original shutdown as an “act of god.”
The validity of the argument that the rat infestations were an “act of god” was scheduled to be considered at a May 26 trial. The settlement reached by the parties, however, cancels the planned proceedings.
D.C. Health has shut down other Glover Park establishments for rat infestations in recent months. Cafe Romeo, a pizzeria and hookah bar, was shut down in September 2019 for rat infestation and structural issues.
The reopening of Whole Foods’ Glover Park location will make grocery shopping more accessible to Georgetown students, according to Elise Gallentine (COL ’23).
“I am excited because I think it will be a more direct walk through Georgetown, because the one in Foggy Bottom is a little bit hard to get to sometimes,” Gallentine said in an interview with The Hoya.
A Trader Joe’s store opened in Glover Park at 2101 Wisconsin Ave. NW in July 2019, giving the neighborhood’s residents an alternative option for grocery shopping. Whole Foods’ gluten-free options and transparency around the ingredients in its products, however, make it a more convenient place to shop for students with dietary restrictions, according to Gallentine, who is a celiac.
“As a celiac, I do find that Whole Foods has more variability and more selection of gluten free products, which is very important to me as someone who has to pay extra attention about what is in their food,” Gallentine said.