The first major chain supermarket to be built in the inner city since the 1968 riots is being planned for the Shaw neighborhood under a unique agreement permitting joint ownership of the store by Giant Food, Inc., a Shaw citizens group and the D.C. Development Corporation.
An experiment in limited community control of a business enterprise, the store will be located at 9th and O Streets NW as part of the long-delayed redevelopment of the O Street Market. The O Street Market has been closed since the riots.
The new store, which will include a pharmacy and optical shop, is expected to open some time next year.
Under the plan, which the three parties have accepted in principal, Giant would own 33 per cent of the stock in the joint company, according to D.C. Development Corporation president Joseph Jackson. The D.C. Development Corporation, a nonprofit public corporation funded by the city's housing department, would own 50 per cent or more of the stock, Jackson said, and the citizens group, called the Shaw Project Area Committee (Shaw-PAC), would own the rest.
Giant is expected to have an exclusive contract to operate the store, but board members of the joint venture would retain authority to select the manager and approve major capital improvements.
"We definitely believe that this is the way we want to move," said Bill Street, executive director of Shaw-PAC, which advises the city on urban renewal plans for the neighborhood.
The plan is modeled on a similar project pioneered in Chicago in 1971 when the Hillman's grocery chain there joined with the Woodlawn Organization to establish a store in the black community near the University of Chicago.
"Giant is very deadly interested in this and we are doing all we can to see it go . . . We want very much for it to succeed," said Paul Forbes, executive assistant to Giant president Joseph B. Danzansky.
"We've been ready to move since January," Jackson said.
The three partners say they are waiting on developer James Adkins to give them final plans for the redevelopment of the O Street Market site and to obtain financing for the project so it can get under way.
Adkins, who received authorization to develop the O Street Market in September, 1975, and indicated the project would be completed for about $2 million in 1976, received a tentative financing committment yesterday from the Commerce Department for about 75 per cent of the cost of the project. The cost has now increased to $5 million, according to Adkins' attorney, Fredercik F. Repetti.
Repetti said the economic development administration of the Commerce Department had recommended approval of a direct $2.5 million loan and a supplemental loan to finance 10 to 15 per cent of the construction costs.
But the loan commitments are contingent upon Adkins obtaining the remainder of the needed money through a conventional bank loan and on Giant and its partners signing an agreement to lease space in the project.
Repetti says he believes both of these conditions will met with little diffculty. "The ducks are in a row and it is set," he said yesterday, although he admitted. "It's been a dickens of a thing to finally get up together."
Adkins' attorneys acknowledge that Adkins has no construction experience. He is the owner and operator of Adkins Produce, a fresh food business in the Florida Avenue farmers market. He is also owner and manager of Century Seafood, a wholesale and retail fish market at 1353 Randolph St. NW., and a fleet of trucks which bring produce and fish to his business.
He organized Adkins Enterprises, a corporation consisting of himself, his wife and his brother in April, 1975, three months before he became the lone bidder for the rights to develop the two-acre O Street Market site bounded by 7th, 9th, O and P streets. The only structure left on the site, that was once filled with small businesses and homes, is the historic O street market, which will renovated to become a farmers market once again.
Repetti said the project has been delayed because of holdups in demolishing the buildings on thsite, difficulty in getting financing for the site, as well as Giant's decision to give the community part ownership in the supermarket and problems with federal planners over plans for a pedestrain mail that would reduce needed parking for the new store.
These stumbling blocks were now resolved, he said.
Although Repetti is optimistic that the project will now get under way, his partner, attorney William Harris, said Adkins is looking for a contractor to build the store. A public hearing must also be held before the city transfers the land to Adkins.
One official close to the negotiations on the issue of partial community ownership of store, said Giant hopes it would make the "community feel responsible for the store" and reduce the security problems experienced by inner city stores.
Giant wants to involve the community "to keep the store from being shoplifted out of business," said a member of the Shaw-PAC board.
Representatives of the joint venture have travled to Chicago to see the Hillman-Woodlawn store and all say they were favorably impressed.
The joint venture is making plans to own and operate the store at a time when Shaw, long one of the city's worst slums areas, is experienced a renaissance. Whites are beginning to move back into the inner city community, attracted to its block by the large unrestored Victorian homes which are still relatively inexpensive.
The return of whites has led to displacement of many poor black families.