D.C. Awards $3 million to Begin Closing the ‘Grocery Gap’

October 20, 2017

The District says it will pump $3 million into housing and retail projects in Wards 7 and 8 to help close the city’s long-standing “grocery gap.”
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) this week awarded $2.1 million to the Jair Lynch group, which is redeveloping the shopping center at Pennsylvania and Branch avenues SE near the Maryland border, and $880,000 to the South Capitol Affordable Housing project located at Atlantic and South Capitol streets SW.
It is the most recent effort by the mayor and D.C. Council Member Vincent C. Gray (D-Ward 7), a potential challenger to Bowser in 2018, to bring grocery stores to Wards 7 and 8, which have three supermarkets between them.

“Everybody wants the same things no matter where they are living in the city,” said Brian Kenner, the deputy mayor for planning and economic development.

Even as D.C.’s economy has boomed and grocery stores in gentrifying neighborhoods have proliferated, the dearth of grocery stores in its poorest wards has remained consistent. A study found that nearly 70 percent of the city’s supermarkets in 2016 were concentrated in its wealthiest, predominantly white neighborhoods. The remainder were in majority black wards with lower incomes. In Wards 7 and 8, there are 50,000 people for every grocery store.

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