The man who made Shaw's Giant store happen is black developer James Adkins, a fast-talking, hand pumping master of the District's new street-style business.
"We're bringing life and money back to the people," he says, standing in the shadow of his latest Shaw project, the O Street Market, which opened recently across the parking lot from the Giant. Ground for a bank/office building will be broken there in the coming weeks, Adkins says.
Adkin's financial savvy has made the O street complex a reality. After the Redevelopment Land Agency and purchasing the two-square-block site for $200,000, Adkins went about finding a chain supermarket to run his store.
"I went to Safeway first," he recalls, "but they didn't go for the plan . . . Then I went to Joseph Danzansky (the late president of Giant Food). After talking to him a few times, I got him to come here with me one day. There was nothing but beer bottles and trash and old abandoned cars there. . . . He stood here and talked about Giant and the future, and he said, 'James, go right ahead.'"
From there, Adkins created a partnership, grouping the D.C. Development Corporation (DCDC)' a nonprofit organization that provides housing services the city's poor; the Shaw Project Area Committee (Shaw-Pac), a neighborhood services commission; and Giant Food Inc. The partners rent the building from Adkins for $200,000 a year, and have put up $1.5 million to stock and maintain the store. DCDC's share is 56 percent, Shaw-Pac's is 10 percent and Giant's is 34 percent.
Adkins then put together another $3.5 million to cover the construction costs of the rest of his complex. Fronting $485,000 of his own, he got a $1.8 million development loan from the U.S. Department of Commerce and another $1.6 million loan from Riggs National Bank.
Additional financial assistance and equity came from Prudential Life Insurance, the District of Columbia National Bank and other sources.
Administrators at DCDC and Shaw-pac are excited about the deal: "We are revitalizing," said Charles Richardson of Shaw-Pac. "It is getting done at last."
Richardson says he does not yet know what his organization will do with its share of the profits, but he speculates it will go toward community projects, rehabilitation and rent subsidies for area residents.
DCDC vice president Abraham Beaton Jr. said its percentage will be placed into "ongoing lending and financial assistance programs in the area." But, he says, "we hope to spin ourselves out of the store and leave it all to Shaw-Pac."
"The time is now right for this sort of thing," Adkins says. "We are leading the way. Others will follow."