Eclipse Residents Call for Harris Teeter Reopening

by ARLnow.com March 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm 59 Comments

Crews on the scene of a possible sewage spill at the Potomac Yard Harris Teeter (photo courtesy Douglas Wendt)A condo owner at the Eclipse Condominium complex at 3600/3650 S. Glebe Road says she has collected 400 signed letters from fellow residents calling for the Harris Teeter in their building to reopen.

Sarah Maiellano says she is going to deliver the letters to the Arlington County Board at their Saturday meeting. The letters urge the Board to “take any and all actions necessary to hasten the reopening of the Harris Teeter grocery store located in the Eclipse building.”

(The text of the letter can be found below, after the jump.)

The Harris Teeter in question, at 3600 S. Glebe Road near Potomac Yard, remains closed with no reopening date in sight. The grocery store was flooded with raw sewage on May 11, 2012, due to a clog at the nearby Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plan.

It has since been thoroughly cleaned, but the company says it’s “actively working with both the county and our landlord to discuss solutions to make sure that which happened does not happen again.”

“Once those solutions are implemented, we are ready to start work on the interior of the store, and at that point, Harris Teeter will make various public announcements to share the good news with everyone,” company spokeswoman Danna Jones told ARLnow.com earlier this year.

At its January meeting the County Board adjourned to closed session to discuss, as County Board Chair Walter Tejada put it, “two matters requiring consultation with the County Attorney and staff concerning pending claims made by Harris Teeter and others, arising from an incident on May 11, 2012.” A county spokeswoman declined to say what claims were being made.

Photo courtesy Douglas Wendt

March 1, 2013

Arlington County Board
2100 Clarendon Blvd. Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201

Dear County Board Members Tejada, Fisette, Garvey, Hughes Hynes, and Zimmerman:

As a resident of the Eclipse Condominium, at 3600/3650 S. Glebe Road in Arlington, I strongly encourage you to take any and all actions necessary to hasten the reopening of the Harris Teeter grocery store located in the Eclipse building.

The Harris Teeter has been closed since May 11, 2012 due to a flood caused by a sewage backup. Since that time, the store has gone through an extensive clean-up process. In October, Al Lentz, Harris Teeter’s Vice President of Construction, reported to our Annual Owners Meeting that the store would reopen this Spring. At that meeting, Greg Emanuel, Director of the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, expressed the County’s desire to reopen the store as quickly as possible. Harris Teeter spokeswoman Danna Jones recently said that the company is “actively working with both the county and our landlord to discuss solutions to make sure that which happened does not happen again.”

However, a January news report indicated that the Arlington County Board held a closed session to discuss “two matters requiring consultation with the County Attorney and staff concerning pending claims made by Harris Teeter and others.” It appears that Harris Teeter is waiting for action from the County Board before they will begin the reopening process.

The Harris Teeter store is one of the primary advantages of living in the Eclipse. Having the store closed for the last 10 months has been an inconvenience to both my neighbors and myself. More importantly, the empty retail space could negatively affect property values in the building. The Eclipse’s retail space has been struggling for years – five businesses have already closed. We can’t afford to lose the Harris Teeter and having it remain closed indefinitely is a negative reflection on our community.

Further, with the closed store, shoppers tend to take their business to nearby Alexandria. As Arlington County faces a budget gap and currently considers raising our property taxes, it seems especially pertinent right now to ensure that significant tax revenue generators, like the Harris Teeter, remain open for business. I strongly encourage you to take immediate action to settle this matter quickly. I appreciate your leadership on this issue.


[Resident Name(s)]

  • Missing Teeter

    Can any non-residents sign this petition? My husband works about two blocks away and we really, really miss that Harris Teeter!

    • ArLater

      I will second that.

      • HT

        Me too, we live in the Aurora Hills neighborhood and much preferred the Eclipse Harris Teeter to the Pentagon Row one. Please reopen!

    • WD

      I would gladly sign a letter. I’ve lived in Crystal City for years and shopped exclusively at that Teeter. I was reminded why when I went to Shoppers the other day and found 2 year old boxes of rice on their shelves 🙁

      • Rye C. Eater

        Wait, was it multiple boxes of 2-year old rice, or 2 boxes of year-old rice? I have been looking for box-aged rice but it peaks at 18 months.

        • WD

          Multiple boxes of 2 year old rice. Although a few were a year old as well.

      • ARL

        If it is stored airtight, white rice has a shelf life of 8-10 years.

    • VaGurl

      By all means anyone who wants to send correspondence to the board concerning this please do! From the text above this was from the residents of the actual building to the board, but ANY and all help that folks can provide to get people moving on this would be much appreciated. You could also send this type of correspondence to the board members – their addresses are here: https://www.arlingtonva.us/Departments/CountyBoard/meetings/members/CountyBoardMeetingsMembersMain.aspx

      • Janey

        Thanks! Just sent a email encouraging them to continue to choose public health over selfish interests.

  • Dood

    I feel for the residents there, but 400 people just doesn’t sound like enough to sustain a grocery story like Harris Teeter in that locaiton.
    Perhaps they could find a way to lock in a low rent for a while, which could be a good deal for them once they get the additional business from all the new Potomac Yard construction.

    • carbarn

      400 people are just residents of the building not simply folks who want to shop there. A lot more people used the store. It was always well trafficked from my experience. We live in DC and would often shop there after a weekend trip into VA for shopping, and when I lived in Alexandria I would always shop there on my way home from work.

    • JohnB

      I used to live in the Park at Arlington Ridge apartment complex and would drive right past the Giant to shop at the Teeter. Glad I moved before this happened.

  • South Awwlington

    plus 1. As an aside, I doubt they are eager to reopen here. They are shopping for a buyer for the company and would probably rather leave this issue to the new owner.

  • Scott

    It sounds as if Harris Teeter doesn’t want to come back. She’s barking up the wrong tree.

  • Arlington Chris

    Wait, wait, 400 people who actually signed a petition instead of writing anonymous comments on the internet? Wow, mind blown.

  • Inside scoop is that location is below grade from the sewage plant. The county can’t guarantee it won’t happen again. They will never be able to reach an agreement. In the meantime, HT needs to give up that location for someone else to come in. Arlington Co doesn’t concede to anyone. We are an arrogant and pompous county. I mean we as in our county government, not necessarily the people. Although def SOME of our people lol.

    • ARL

      What is arrogant and pompous in this case?

      • Common Sense

        Exactly. I’m glad someone who does not have a profit motive is in charge of protecting the food I buy from exposure to raw sewage. E Coli illness or death is not a good tradeoff for shopping convenience.

        • ARL

          True, and also, the taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for such an accident happening a second time.

    • flux

      Stuck up county thinks its poop don’t stink.

    • Curious

      This gossip, along with the reports of unspecified claims HT made that required the presence of county attorneys, suggests to me that HT wants to the county to either guarantee this won’t happen again or will pay for it if it does. Is that right? Sounds like a bad idea to me.

      • Jim

        The County will never indemnify for sewage backup. HT knows that.

    • Pierre

      Why would HT even want to move back in if the location is below grade from the sewage plant? Of course the county won’t guarantee it won’t happen again.

  • South Arlington

    How about a Wegman’s instead!

    • Jim

      They are never putting a food related business in that space again.

      • Poopy Waters

        It’s going to be difficult to get any business in that space again. Normal commercial property insurance excludes sewer backup without an endorsement (which means the business income insurance also excludes this event), and an underwriter seeing that loss history will never write that endorsement, or will charge a premium commensurate with a risk > 1 in 100 year flood event. Either retention or risk transfer will be very expensive for any company looking to locate there.

        • Josh S

          If this line of legal analysis is all true, then I wonder about the incompetence of the developer. He built a building downgrade from a sewage treatment plant and offered the basement level to a grocery store?

          • flux

            What does it say about the county then that they issued a building permit for a building that would fill up with sewage at the first blockage? Plenty of fault to cast around when you have hindsight.

          • speonjosh

            Somehow I think if you’re going to base your society on a supposedly free-market approach, with “by right” development rights to property, then the greater burden falls on the property owner. It’s their money at stake, not the county’s.

        • ARL

          There might be some kind of plumbing solution, like a big one-way valve. Still might not be enough though.

    • Pierre

      Wegman’s…..I wish!!!

  • Mike Honcho

    Who wants a poopsicle?

  • J22C

    Sounds like she’s more interested in retaining the property values.

  • 8 miles

    Clean up, aisle 1? And how about getting some tenants in the National Gateway building?

  • Common Sense

    More importantly, the empty retail space could negatively affect property values in the building.

    As opposed to the negative effect on one’s continued existence on earth after contracting sewage-borne E Coli.

  • Jesus Shuttlesworth

    Shouldn’t the residents be more concerned about raw sewage entering their building than with the status of a grocery store?

    • TV Guy D.

      Did you watch Hoop Dreams on BET last night too?

    • Pierre

      Exactly! I would be more concerned with the raw sewage

  • giog99

    The issue of sewage entering the building has been addressed already. Like almost a year ago. This Harris Teeter opening issue is what’s the biggest hurdle lately.

    • Polk

      Unless they raised the elevation of the building when I wasn’t looking, they have not addressed the problem of sewage lines backing up. The principles of gravity cannot be changed by lawyers, engineers, or politicians. I had a neighbor whose home repeated back up with sewage; the County’s engineer’s said there is nothing that can be done if you have the misfortune of being at the low spot in the line (backflow preventers are illegal)

      • ARL

        (backflow preventers are illegal)

        They are?

  • Paul Casimir

    Harris Teeter has put itself up for sale; bids are due in mid-March. There is no way it is going to reopen a location damaged by raw sewage while a potential sale, which will take months to conclude, is in progress. Odds are that any company that acquires Harris Teeter, be it Publix (outstanding grocery chain) or Stop&Shop (terrible grocery chain) will not, under any circumstance, reopen a location damaged by raw sewage.

    • Arlingtoon

      Do you think we might get Publix in this area? That would be awesome — shopped there all the time in Florida. They’d be a great addition to the area, and provide a real competitive spur to both Safeway and Giant.
      (I agree with your comment about Stop & Shop too, btw.)

      • AJR

        You do know that Stop & Shop and Giant are the same company, right?

        • Arlingtoon

          I do — I was just using the same name that Paul used in his post.
          It’s too bad that they took over what was a fine local chain and ran it into the ground (imho).

      • giog99

        Publix is more South. I think the furthest north they are is North Carolina. Who knows if they have plans to move to VA.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    If we had an accountable board, we could have an open hearing that discusses the plant and it’s issues. Closed sessions are for protecting negotiating points(like on real-estate deals) not hiding the truth from the citizens of AC.

    • Koon Kookinelli

      They are accountable every four years. Too bad in a jurisdiction of over 200,000 people the Republicans can’t find any candidates that appeal to the voters.

    • Danny

      Public hearing on a grocery store? C’mon. We have a quarter million residents. When need to run the Board like a public hockey rink, and hold hearings 24/7 to settle every petty grievance of every condo association. Live doesn’t work that way. Priorities prevail. This falls pretty low on that totem pole.

      • Scott

        petty grievance lol– yup this is just an annoyance to you. Property owners/ Arlington residents bought in that building given the grocery store. Not having the grocery –and the reason why is a huge black mark on the property owners. As many have said, in current state it will be very difficult to get another business into that location for insurance reasons/

        • speonjosh

          Sounds like maybe they should be pursuing the developer who sold them the money pit to begin with.

    • speonjosh

      If the county is potentially a party to a lawsuit, or could be as a result of county board actions, then I think a closed hearing is understandable.

    • ARL

      Closed sessions are for legal issues, and perfectly normal.

    • ARL

      You don’t see how a legal claim against the county that is probably in talks to be settled out of court involves…negotiating points?

  • I’ve seen the bidders for HT mentioned in other comments, but if Royal Ahold really does purchase Harris Teeter, I can’t imagine they would operate a Giant Food and Harris Teeter on the same street and zip code…

  • Shop Safeway

    Harris Teeter is up for sale…that could be why they are not in a rush to reopen.


  • Formerly Oz

    It’ll be tough for that location to ever live down what happened. My husband and I call it the “Poopy Teeter.”

    • drax

      “Poopy Teeter.”

      We can do better than that.

      Harris Turder
      Sewage Teeter
      Store Number 2


      • snarl

        Eclipse download…


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