- CityMarket at O breaks ground in Shaw, at last. (Photo: TBD Staff)
If there's anything Shaw residents have grown tired of, it's promises from city officials that long-stalled development projects are *really* coming. And if there's anything city officials are tired of dealing with when they visit Shaw, it's questions from residents about when big projects will finally get off the ground.
So it was with a great sense of excitement and indeed, relief, that almost a dozen elected leaders and department heads and from across the D.C. government gathered Wednesday for a formal groundbreaking for CityMarket at O.
"This project has been in the works for a very long time, as many of you all know," said D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty. "Today I'm grateful that anytime we're out in Shaw, we don't have to wonder, when will the groundbreaking happen?"
Nearly a decade in the making, the $260 million project will finally start construction thanks in large part to $100 million in loans from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The D.C. government has also provided $35 million in tax increment financing to Roadside Development and its partners.
Plans call for a brand new 72,000-square-foot Giant grocery store, 145 condos, 400 market-rate apartments, 86 units of affordable housing set aside for seniors, and a 180-plus room boutique hotel.
Despite temperatures in the mid-90s, Ward 2 D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans bounced ebulliently through the crowd gathered under a white tent next to the existing O Street Giant at 8th and O streets NW. He was the first to admit that Shaw residents have every right to be skeptical, estimating that he must have attended at least four other events celebrating the redevelopment of the historic O Street Market over the years.
"I don't blame them," he says of Shaw's frustration, but now, "yeah, it'll happen. I guarantee it."
Of course, Shaw residents are in store for even more frustration before they get their new market. The existing O Street Giant is expected to close in January, with demolition starting sometime in the spring of 2011. The neighborhood will have no grocery store at all for about two years while the new store is built.
Still, it's a big week for Shaw. CityMarket at O promises to be the kind of project that really will deliver big changes to the area. And at 10:45 a.m. today, city leaders will gather for another long-awaited groundbreaking at the historic Howard Theatre.