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Crystal City Trying to Attract a Grocery Store

by ARLnow.com September 1, 2010 at 10:46 am 3,750 23 Comments

Update at 12:55 p.m. — We’re told development at the space at 2121 Crystal Drive, referenced here, is a long-range goal and not set in stone. Vornado’s current and on-going effort to attract a grocery store is focused on existing spaces in Crystal City.

Crystal City has been without a grocery store for more than five years. But now, as developer Vornado works to attract more residents to the area, it’s also working hard to attract a new grocery store.

The Safeway that had served as Crystal City’s lone grocery store closed its doors in March 2005. The store had been an anchor tenant of the Crystal City Underground for 38 years, but decided to close when surface parking was eliminated as part of the revitalization of Crystal City.

Now, we hear, Vornado is touting the success of Crystal City’s Freshfarm market in an effort to attract a new grocery store. We don’t know much about the closely-held discussions with retailers, but we do know a likely site for a future store — the park in front of 2121 Crystal Drive.

The park is actually owned by Vornado, which wants to liven up the block by replacing the open space with low-rise retail and, possibly, condos. In order to do so, however, Vornado would need to convince the county board that the open space being developed would be replaced by more open space elsewhere in Crystal City.

We talked to Crystal City Business Improvement District President Angela Fox and County Board Vice-Chairman Chris Zimmerman about the potential development earlier this summer. Check out the video from that lively discussion (don’t worry, it’s short) after the jump.

  • rebecky

    Just please don’t put another overpriced Harris Teeter in 22202. If you want to brand this as an up-and-coming area, you need a grocery store that fits the image.

    • Deb

      HT is cheaper than Safeway for pretty much everything I buy.

      • Texas Wahoo

        Giant is cheaper than both for pretty much everything.

        • Deb

          My experience with Giant is that the service is terrible and not worth the hassle of the “why are you bothering me” attitude that I’ve encountered there. I think there should be more TJs around here.

  • Please excuse the idiotic off-camera commentary (“cut! cut!”) near the end of the video. Don’t know what I was thinking there.

  • Dave

    Crystal City is literally bookended by Harris Teeters. They do not need another. A Giant Food would be awesome! There is literally no way to live in crystal city without a car and go grocery shopping. Sure, you can take the 9S to the HT at 33rd and US1 but that bus only runs M-F until 7pm.

  • Jonathan

    I wouldn’t say there is “no way” to live in Crystal city without a car and go grocery shopping. I live here without a car, and manage just fine. While its a little bit of a walk to either Harris Teeter, its not unreasonable, it takes about 15 min. CVS has just expanded its “grocery” section, so in a pinch I can run there if need something really quick. But yes, a real grocery store in the area (hopefully a TJs!) would be such a welcome addition. What about one setting up shop in the interim in the space neaxt to Caribou Coffee?

  • TJs!

    YES to Trader Joe’s.

  • Clarendude

    How about Wegman’s ? They are known as a mega store, but they started out as a more urban format. I think they need to come up with an urban-compatible store (< 50,000 sq ft). Rochester is talking about their Wegmans

    http://www.rochestercitynewspaper.com/news/opinion/2010/07/URBAN-JOURNAL-With-the-Wegmans-on-East-Ave-doesnt-design-matter/

    • @ Clarendude- Agreed! I already e-mailed Wegmans along with a link to the ArlNow article. Let’s get some traction and build some support for something besides HT or Giant. Wegmans offers fantastic organic products with the price range that suits this neighborhood. Whole Foods (I personally like) but is too pricey and TJ I don’t think would be a huge hit here.

  • Mikey

    I agree with Trader Joes! At the moment, I just wastefully drive my car down from 15th to the HT @ 33rd.

  • Henry Spencer

    A mainstream Giant or SW would be ideal, but a TJs would be great too. As a Crystal Park worker, I’d hate to lose the green space, but I’d love a place to pick up groceries on the way home.

  • I think Wegmans is a BRILLIANT idea!! Wegmans certainly wants to open in a city (they are creeping closer to Boston as well as DC). I think residents would be open to a multi-level store or multiple store fronts with a Wegmans Grocery, Sub Shop, Prepared Foods, Patisserie/Bakery/Coffee Shop, etc.

    • charlie

      i’d stop picking on zimmie if he could get a wegmans. everyone has their price.

  • S. Arl. resident

    More concrete – that is what Arlington REALLY needs. Crystal City has grocery stores – Harris Teeter and Giant on S. Glebe and Harris Teeter in Pentagon City, Costco, and the Shoppers Food Ware House in Potomac Yards. Trader’s Joe’s might fit in where Safeway was in the Underground without ruining the open space. They are pretty much underground on Washington Street in Old Town Alexandria.

  • roemary

    hy does Arlington not have a Wegmans? It is the best. We have 3-4 Harris Teeters and lots of Giants and Safeways.Dude lets get a Wegmans.

    • Ali

      Seriously. I would burn my VIC card and never go to HT ever again.

    • Frenchy B

      Based on their current (and future planned) locations, Wegmans clearly is targeting outer suburbs with cheaper real estate. Aside from the metropolises of Harrisburg, Buffalo and Syracuse, they seem content to locate their stores outside of densely populated areas.

  • CrystalCity’er

    Trader Joe’s!! I think the previous space where Safeway was would work perfectly, without needing to eliminate the open space in question.

  • Rebecky

    Trader Joe’s would be a perfect fit. Make it work, Ms. Fox!

  • Pingback: A place to buy more than milk! « Crystal City After 5()

  • DS3

    They need more restaurants. It took them long enough to just start opening new ones in the past year. The Food Court closing last year was disasterous. Cut my options literally to nothing. More stress in big players and less on the little underground shops. Close that stupid puppet store too. Completely useless!

  • Imarie

    Interesting to see the differences in priorities for Crystal City workers vs Crystal City residents. Some of us, as I am, are both. As a non-vehicle owning resident, I think we’re good with the restaurants. I always think of the increased rodent quotient each time a new restaurant goes up. Would love to have a decent convenient grocery store but if it means losing that beautiful park, then I’ll deal with Shoppers on Route1 or the HT at Pentagon Row. I for one was sorry to see Slice and Dice go up. It changed the inner landscape of the underground forever. Really out of place across from Nahid’s spalon.

    I don’t think Giant would be a good fit in the underground — my vote would be for a Trader Joe’s for some variety. Don’t know what else is out there.

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