A $3.2 million federal grant has been awarded to the District of Columbia to spur development of a shopping center in Northeast on land owned by hardware store executive John W. Hechinger, D.C. Mayor Marion S. Barry announced yesterday.

The shopping center will be located at the intersection of H. Street, Benning Road and Bladensburg Road NW, on the edge of a once-busy retail center that has declned severely since riots consumed the area in 1968. The new development is expected to spur revitalization of the rundown H Street corridor.

The money, granted under a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program called Urban Development Action Grants (UDAG), will be combined with $9.969 million in firm commitements from the private sector to help develop the 212,000 square-foot shopping center, according to a HUD spokesman. About 230 new jobs will be generated by the development, he said.

The new shopping center probably will have a Hechinger's, a Safeway food store, and a Peoples drug store, plus other "satellite" tenants, according to Arnold Mays, grants coordinator for the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development.

Mays said the plans for the shopping center are in preliminary stages, and that it may take another year for development to get under way.

A HUD spokesman said Washington is one of 29 cities and counties selected to receive funding under the program this week. The spokesman said details about the national awards will be released today.

The District applied for the grant for the site last March, along with funding for five other projects. The shopping center was estimated to cost about $20 million, most of it from private funds.

Although HUD has announced the funding of numerous projects elsewhere since then, the only project funded in Washington was a prgoram providing down payment funds for low-income families wanting to buy homes. A HUD representative said when that project was funded last October that some of the District's other proposals were being held over until the next round of awards while others were returned for resubmission. Some of them didn't have a good chance of getting funded, she said.

Throughout his campaign for mayor, Barry often criticized the city's housing department for submitting what he described as inadequate applications for grants, and for not applying for others that would have been available.

Mays said yesterday that HUD had raised questions about private investment planned for the Hechinger site, and that negotiations were held over the past few months to resolve the problems.