Grocery Incentive Program Destined for Funding
NEWS | June 17, 2019
The past month in DC has been marked by several discussions and debates regarding food deserts in Wards 7 and 8, the validity of the “East End” and “East of the River” monikers, and ongoing volleying about the DC budget and the availability of funds for various initiatives. Now, all three subjects are converging.
Last week, Ward 7 councilmember Vincent Gray announced funding for a program to increase investment in grocery stores east of the Anacostia River. Based on the Chief Financial Officer’s assessment that the city has a 60-day surplus of cash on-hand, Gray announced that those funds would be used to bankroll the East End Grocery Incentive Act of 2018.
The act creates a program within the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to allow the government to subsidize construction of new grocery stores east of the River. The incentive program would also enable the city to subsidize other retail co-anchors at nine developments: Skyland Town Center (where the city’s first LIDL grocery store was announced), Penn Branch shopping center, St. Elizabeths, Parkside, Capitol Gateway (which has languished following cancelled plans for a Walmart), Deanwood Town Center, Columbian Quarter, East River Park, and United Medical Center.
“I am excited to work with the Mayor, and her administration to leverage this dedicated $9.899 million in surplus funds, and any additional funding certified at the end of Fiscal Year 2019, for pay-as-you-go capital funding to ensure that the District develops all nine of these sites with new full-service grocery stores, retail, and sit-down restaurants,” Gray said in a statement.
Utilizing a provision passed in 2010 during Gray’s mayoral term, the city is able to split surplus funds between pay-as-you-go capital initiatives and the Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) once 60 days of operating cash is available. Accordingly, another $9.899 million will be apportioned to the HPTF.