WASHINGTON — Residents of the Bellevue neighborhood in Southwest D.C. celebrated the grand opening of a new grocery store on Saturday, which leaders said could provide healthier options and bring more access to food in the area.
Neighbors told WUSA 9 that the closest supermarket, a Giant Food on Alabama Ave SE, sits almost two miles away and can take over half an hour to get to by public transportation or walking.
The opening on Saturday of Good Food Markets came to be after an initiative launched by Mayor Muriel Bowser that provided almost $1 million in grant funding.
"We need to do everything possible to make sure our communities have healthy lives, lifestyles, food options, and food access," the mayor said. "We've been deprived too long. This is an investment.”
The new grocery store is part of a 225,000 square-foot development space that includes a primary care clinic, an office building, and 190 affordable housing units.
During the grand opening event, many residents celebrated by shopping at the store and checking out the options inside.
Outside, a marching band played while neighbors mingled about and welcomed the arrival of a needed business.
"It feels good to not have to drive to Alabama Avenue or go across the bridge. You don’t have to go to Giant or Whole Foods to get healthy food. You can come right down to the neighborhood and all these seniors that live around here can walk here," said Ward 8 resident Lisa Barton as she walked the aisles. "I’m excited for Ward 8. I’m excited.”
Others pointed to how the grocery store marked a noticeable change in the neighborhood.
DC Councilman Trayon White noted how the stretch of South Capitol Street SW had seen other stores come and go through the years.
"I remember this corner used to be a liquor store," he said. "This is a transformation for Ward 8 that we need a healthy lifestyle. This is a beginning not just about food but about what we eat and how we eat.”
The opening of the new grocery store came the same week Mayor Bowser announced almost $9 million in grants for food businesses to open new locations in Wards 7 and 8 as part of the Food Access Fund.
Moving forward, she hoped the push for more business and food options would further help the two wards make progress.
"That is the vision. It is becoming a reality. That’s what you can do with longevity," she said. "We’ll be able to finish things a lot more with your help. Let’s do it again. Let’s figure out how as a community we’re going to work together for the development that we want.”