Trader Joe’s, the California-based grocer, has applied for a license from Washington, D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration for a location in Glover Park.
The application, scheduled for a hearing Nov. 27, cites 2101 Wisconsin Ave. NW as the address. The building, currently empty, was occupied by hotel chain Holiday Inn until 2015. The site is being remodeled into a mixed-use development with 225 apartments and additional space for retail shops, according to UrbanTurf, a blog dedicated to real estate in the District.
The application says the grocery will serve hot and cold meals, including salads, sandwiches, pizza, sushi, baked goods and non-alcoholic beverages, in addition to beer and wine.
The new Trader Joe’s location will neighbor Safeway and Whole Foods Market on Wisconsin Avenue. Whole Foods has been closed for a year due to health inspection concerns and remodeling.
Whole Foods has seen slowing customer traffic and reduced sales over the last year, a problem Ajay Jain, an analyst at Pivotal Research, attributed to grocers like Trader Joe’s, according to CNBC. Whole Foods’s stock prices have fallen over 45 percent since 2015. Jain said retailers like Trader Joe’s and Sprouts Farmers Market offer organic options at lower costs than Whole Foods. Safeway’s stock prices have remained stable since 2015.
The news also comes amid concerns that over 11 percent of the District is now considered a food desert, according to the D.C. Policy Center. A food desert is a geographic area in which the walking distance to a grocery store is more than 0.5 miles, over 40 percent of households have no vehicles available and the median household income is less than 80 percent of the federal poverty level in a family of four.
More than three-quarters of food deserts in the District are located in Wards 7 and 8, the most demographically diverse and economically strapped in the city. In 2016, nearly 70 percent of the city’s grocery stores were in the four wards with D.C.’s highest incomes, including Wards 1, where Georgetown is located, 2, 3 and 6. Ward 7 has two grocery stores as of March, and Ward 8 has just one.
Director of D.C. Hunger Solutions Beverley Wheeler expressed frustration with the lack of food options throughout the District in June.
“We’re not talking about high-end Harris Teeters. We’re talking about reasonable groceries,” Wheeler told The Washington Post. “Can we get those stores east of the river?”