How to recompense the Foggy Bottom Association for attracting Trader Joes to DC now they have plans for five stores
Last week, Trader Joe's opened its third store in the city in the Eastern Market district of Capitol Hill ("Capitol Hill Trader Joe's is open," Capitol Hill Corner).
Meanwhile a fourth store is slated to open on Florida Avenue NE in the Union Market district (a concept I opined about in 2009 in testimony to the Zoning Commission, see "Retail planning and the Florida Market") and a fifth TJ's has been announced for Glover Park on Wisconsin Avenue ("JBG Smith lands Trader Joes to anchor Glover Park development," Bisnow). Almost three years ago, the city's second TJs opened on 14th Street NW.
But it all started in the early 2000s when the Foggy Bottom Association made a major incentive payment of over $1 million to the company to open their first DC store in the redeveloped project at the old Columbia Hospital for Women. (Some specifics are discussed in a comment by an FBA leader in the comment on this past blog entry, "Pay an incentive fee and Downtown Los Angeles will get a Trader Joe's.")
Before the payment, TJs argued that DC didn't have the demographics they seek ("Trader Joe's Shopper Insights and Demographics," InfoScout; "Quirky, cult-like, aspirational, affordable: The rise and rise of Trader Joe's," FoodNavigator USA), even though even then the company had plenty of urban locations on the west coast sure but also in east coast cities like Philadelphia.
When I saw the report about the agreement to open a fifth store in DC, I thought, wow, each of those neighborhoods ought to provide a "progress payment" back to the Foggy Bottom Association, in recognition of how that additional incentive agreement and payment--paid by the association NOT the city government's economic development apparatus--led to today's situation where the city will have five TJs stores, instead of zero.