Friday, November 15, 2013

Whole Foods on H Street: Why you should be more angry or less angry than you are

H Street is getting a Whole Foods. I know I'm late to the blogging game on this one-- the news (and here and here) broke last week about the $443M deal and there's been all sorts of chatter about it, and most of it divisive. There seem to be two camps: Develop the hell out of everything and get rid of the "riff raff" (real classy, commentator on Frozen Tropics) or keep things exactly the way that they were... fifteen years ago.

Aside of the all of the hilarious snark that is the byproduct of such a pitched fight, both sides have valid points that the other side seems uninterested in entertaining. Something needs to be done to the 600 block. Murry’s doesn’t exactly contribute to community health with its selection of prepackaged and hydrogenated foods. Conversely, Whole Foods is stupidly, nearly prohibitively expensive, and suburban bland. The same goes for the 430 condos that are slated to be built on top of the Whole Foods: there is a demand for housing that will be met, and which will stimulate the local economy. However, the design looks just like anything else in NoVA. And so, it’s a mixed bag, more than most are willing to admit.

Despite the pitched fight, it seems to me that no one is asking the right questions. Given the reality of development that is coming to H Street, how can we think creatively together to form a new way of being as a community? How do we welcome development in such a way that it brings new life to the neighborhood while working collaboratively with those who have been here a long time? What are the legitimate needs of everyone on both sides of the issue? Given the stories of the past, how are we retelling the story of the neighborhood, which in turn shapes how we see the future?

Ranting is satisfying, but it won't keep the developers at bay. We need to be having non-polarized discussions about the future of the neighborhood that involve all stakeholders. 


  1. and we need to look at the city subsidy. How much of a tax break is Whole Foods going to get for bringing the "right people" to the neighborhood? We should be very involved in making sure that this development ALSO includes city and developer money going to affordable housing and neighborhood diversity investment.

  2. If one shops carefully at Whole Foods you can find some bargains. The store brands are competitive, especially the canned goods and the bulk items. Wine, coffee and milk are actually cheep.