East Capitol Dwellings, on East Capitol Street near the Maryland border, had become notorious for drugs and prostitution when the D.C. Housing Authority won a $30.8 million federal HOPE VI grant to redevelop the property into a mixed-income neighborhood in 2000.
Most of the housing has since been rebuilt, but the housing authority has long promised its residents there that it would open a grocery store, in this case a Wal-Mart that would sell a wide variety of groceries.
The housing authority, along with development partner A&R Cos., submitted an application to the city Tuesday for zoning changes that would allow the construction of Capitol Gateway Marketplace, a shopping center with a 130,000-square-foot Wal-Mart store, a wellness center and a sit-down restaurant on the north side of East Capitol Street.
Adrianne Todman, executive director of the agency, said she was looking forward to starting the retail portion of a project that has been in the works for more than a decade. She said it would create 300 construction jobs and 100 permanent ones operating the store and restaurant.
“I’m just very very excited to get the ball rolling and to work with the community to get this done. Every time I go down there everyone is talking about jobs,” she said.
Before submitting for zoning changes, Todman said she reached a community benefits agreement with the retailer that would create job preferences for public housing residents and of Ward 7, where the store is located.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and Wal-Mart came to terms on a citywide community benefits agreement last year, and Todman said the housing authority’s agreement was “separate but not apart” from the city-wide version.
It is difficult to judge how applications will fare before the D.C. Zoning Commission but one portion of the plan that could draw attention is the amount of proposed parking, 665 spaces in all, including 331 surface spaces (and 17 spaces for bicycles) and the rest in a garage.
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