Whole Foods to open in Square 54

The upscale Whole Foods grocery chain will open a new store on campus, a University official confirmed Thursday.

The grocery store will be located on the first floor of Square 54, the large property being developed across the street from the GW Hospital, said Michael Akin, the assistant vice president of the Office of Government, International and Community Relations.

“We have learned that Boston Properties has signed a lease with Whole Foods for Square 54/2200 Pennsylvania Avenue,” Akin said in a release to the Foggy Bottom community. “You, our neighbors, have been a key part of this development plan since the very beginning. You sat through countless meetings, offered your ideas and asked the tough questions – all of which made the campus planning process better.”

The store, Akin said, will be approximately 37,000 square feet and is expected to open in mid-to-late 2011.

“Whole Foods will be a tremendous addition to the neighborhood.  Residents of the West End and Foggy Bottom have been very vocal about their desire for a full-service grocery — specifically Whole Foods. It can’t open soon enough,” said Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A Chair Rebecca Coder.

Boston Properties – the company developing the site – is required to have a grocery store open in the space, and has been in negotiations with at least two grocery chains in the past to determine which chain will open in the space. The West End Flyer reported in June that Whole Foods was negotiating with the developer.

In February 2009, the Washington Business Journal reported Giant Food was close to signing a lease with Boston Properties, but Boston Properties Senior Project Manager Jake Stroman said in June of the Giant Food rumor, “It has sort of switched horses now.”

The Watergate Safeway and a Trader Joe’s at 25th and L streets  are the closest grocery chains to GW’s Foggy Bottom campus.

Construction on the Square 54 project is expected to be complete in early 2011.

“We’re pleased to have a new grocer coming to the George Washington community as a part of the Square 54 project.  A grocery store was always an important element of the retail design of the project,” said Lou Katz, executive vice president and treasurer. “So many of our students and neighbors wanted to see a new grocery store in Foggy Bottom and I’m sure they share in the excitement of seeing this plan come to fruition.”

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