It's been a long time coming, but a new Safeway store with a Starbucks cafe opened on the Southwest waterfront Thursday.
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) and council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) joined executives of the grocery chain in a ceremonial ribbon cutting about 4:30 p.m. About 75 people waited to pour into the store and walk its wood floors, shop its shining aisles and sample fresh sushi.
The new Safeway is a far cry from the trampled 1960s-era store that served area residents through last week, where lines stretched from the checkout aisle even during off-peak hours.
Sitting at the Waterside/Southeast University Metro station, the gleaming Safeway and Starbucks are a sight residents haven't seen. A block away, project homes still stand as a reminder of the area's poverty and the failed federal urban renewal plan of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Few sit-down restaurants are in driving distance.
But with hundreds of new condominiums, revamped apartments and a state-of-the art renovation of Arena Stage only months from completion, the area no longer looks like an ugly duckling on the waterfront.
City planners hoped to add to the shine by developing along the Anacostia. But the nightclubs they were supposed to raze are standing and thriving, and as yet there is no sign that a change is coming in that space.
-- Darryl D. Fears