Safeway’s Craig Muckle on Petworth, Walmart and More

Flickr: M.V. Jantzen

The new-ish Safeway at City Vista.

Yesterday, in my “About that Petworth Safeway“-post, I promised that I would speak to someone at Safeway’s corporate offices to confirm and clarify information about their plans for one highly-anticipated renovation. I spoke to Craig Muckle; he’s their Manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations for this region and he was very helpful and informative.

First: DCentric reader Teke Wiggin was correct; Muckle confirms that the Social Safeway in Georgetown is the city’s largest at 71,000 square feet. The next largest location is at Hechinger Mall in Northeast, at 62,000 square feet. That means that the proposed renovation of the Petworth Safeway will put it in third place in terms of size, at 60,000 square feet. My final thought on all of these numbers is this: I don’t really care which neighborhood’s store is bigger, as long as the produce is fresh, the products are priced fairly and the service is good. I don’t shop at the large grocery store that is two blocks away from me because it fails on all three of those counts. If it were half-the size and twice as friendly, I’d be happy to go there, so I think square footage is interesting and useful– up to a point.

While some locals hope that an independent coffee seller like Qualia could be included in the new store design, Muckle confirmed that when it comes to in-store coffee at Safeway, “in the U.S. it’s Starbucks”. I usually don’t drink their coffee (Filter and Baked and Wired, holla!), but I also don’t notice that they are the chain in Safeway (or Target, for that matter); the only time I paid attention to their presence was when I realized that since the Safeway in Georgetown is open 24 hours a day, it would’ve made an odd, yet comforting place to pull all-nighters when I was in school. By the way, Muckle confirmed that the Petworth Safeway’s hours haven’t been established yet.
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A Nice, New Safeway for Petworth (Updated)

UPDATE: One of you kindly informed me that the numbers in this post aren’t accurate. Thanks for that!

Flickr: M.V. Jantzen

Georgetown's renovated, modernized "Social Safeway".

Prince of Petworth has exciting news for the residents of his neighborhood. D.C.’s newest, sleekest Safeway will be built in Petworth, replacing an aging facility which attracts as many complaints as it does shoppers:

Back in May ’10 I wrote a post titled Battle of the Safeways: Haves Vs. Have Nots comparing the new Georgetown/Glover Park Safeway to Petworth’s Safeway on Georgia Ave (3830 Georgia Ave, NW). I am happy to say that, soon, this argument will no longer apply. Petworth is slated to be home to the city’s newest and largest Safeway at 60,000 square feet. While I’m trying not to exaggerate I believe this is the biggest news to hit Petworth/Georgia Ave since the metro station opened. This news is so huge that I have passed out twice since starting to write this and I’m only on the first paragraph. This is, in the parlance of our times, a true gamechanger…

There will be two underground floors of parking removing the current parking lot and curb cuts on Georgia Ave. will be no more. There will be 85 spaces on one floor for shoppers and 135 parking spots on a separate floor for residents. The ground floor will be 60,000 square feet including a full deli, Starbucks and a state of the art pharmacy and will look a lot like the City Vista/Sexy Safeway and the new ultra modern Safeway in SW-Waterfront…

Additionally, the Safeway will increase from 40-50 employees to 150-160.

The entire process should take about 2 and 1/2 – 3 years.

When the extensively renovated “Social Safeway” held its grand opening in Georgetown, people were frustrated at how beautiful and well-stocked (yes, especially with Organic food) it was compared to its siblings in less affluent parts of D.C. Not only does this news address that, it means better options (and more jobs!) for a neighborhood which would welcome them.

When Walmart Comes to D.C., it will be Healthier

Flickr: Shawn Campbell

Bell peppers, on sale at Walmart, which is committed to making fruits and vegetables more affordable.

Remember how Walmart is planning on opening several stores in the District? Well, due to the considerable influence of our First Lady, who has made nutrition a national priority, those stores will be stocking healthier versions of Walmart’s house-branded foods, as well as more fresh produce:

In interviews previewing the announcement, Wal-Mart and White House officials said the company was also pledging to press its major food suppliers, like Kraft, to follow its example. Wal-Mart does not disclose how much of its sales come from its house brand. But Kraft says about 16 percent of its global sales are through Wal-Mart.

In addition, Wal-Mart will work to eliminate any extra cost to customers for healthy foods made with whole grains, said Leslie Dach, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president for corporate affairs. By lowering prices on fresh fruits and vegetables, Wal-Mart says it will cut into its own profits but hopes to make up for it in sales volume. “This is not about asking the farmers to accept less for their crops,” he said.

I know many D.C. residents are less than thrilled about Walmart’s impending arrival, but increasing access to healthy, affordable foods is one way to look at the “bright side” of such a development.
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Being Neighborly in Glover Park


Unshoveled sidewalk near Glover Park.

This is great to see; in Glover Park, neighbors are coming together to help elderly or physically incapacitated people clear snow and ice while reminding others of their obligation to clear the sidewalk for pedestrians:

The sense of urgency to organize and pursue this initiative came from two sources. A primary driver was listserv traffic describing properties whose sidewalks have persistent snow and ice long after precipitation ends. Another factor was the occasional senior citizen or physically limited person who approached GPCA for shoveling assistance.

With feedback from residents, the ANC developed a snow shoveling flyer. The flyer explains the obligation to shovel sidewalk. It also promotes the availability of volunteers help with those who are physically unable to shovel. Any resident can print the flyer and leave a copy at a property with untreated sidewalks.

At no point was there significant discussion about how to formally validate that someone needed assistance. Organizers generally assumed that someone who approached the neighborhood for assistance legitimately needed it.

I think this fosters a sense of community, something which is sorely lacking in many parts of this city. The fact that such cooperation among neighbors makes it easier and safer to walk around is nice, too.

I like that they are going to be red.

Flickr: Streets of Washington

A Circulator bus near NPR headquarters.

Now reading about the future of D.C. transit, via “The Case for Streetcars“:

Almost 50 years ago, streetcars in Washington, D.C. stopped running and most of their tracks were removed. Now they’re back and ready for a revival, with parts of the first two lines slated to open next spring. In this post, we talk to Dan Tangherlini, the former DDOT director under Mayor Anthony Williams, who committed to building one of the first two lines, about why streetcars matter for the nation’s capital.


The streetcars were conceived in 1997, when Mayor Marion Barry’s Department of Public Works published “A Transportation Vision, Strategy, and Action Plan for the Nation’s Capital.” The plan called for circulator buses and streetcars to connect existing Metrobus and Metrorail lines and activity centers close to the city’s core. Planners think these additional connections are important since current rail lines connect neighborhoods to the city center but not necessarily to each other; this sometimes makes travel between neighborhoods and activity centers on different transit lines difficult, despite the 106 miles of Metrorail track and 319 Metrobus routes that exist today. Plus, as one presentation of the city’s transportation department puts it, overcrowding on Metrorail will be “unmanageable by 2013” and several Metrobus lines are already over capacity.

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Metro’s Resolution for 2011: Working Escalators?


These "Precision Escalator Products" were sitting next to the elevator at the Tenleytown/AU station, yesterday.

Finally– some good news, especially for those with mobility issues, who are extra-inconvenienced when a Metro escalator is broken (via WAMU):

Metro is focusing extra attention on its problematic escalators, a frequent source of complaint from riders. The transit agency is starting the new year with a newly appointed general superintendent for elevator and escalator programs.

Veteran engineer Rodrigo Bitar has been assigned to the position. His task: to oversee the repairs and upkeep of hundreds of escalators and elevators that Metro has failed to maintain.

In October, six passengers at the L’Enfant Plaza station were injured when the brakes on a Metro escalator malfunctioned. After the incident, a system wide inspection found additional problems with various Metro escalators.

Bitar will be charged with shepherding repair work laid out in an agency assessment made public earlier this year.

Rodrigo Bitar has previous experience with Metro; in the past, he was the “Director of Quality Assurance and Warranty”. If there’s anything that I encounter on a daily basis in this city that needs some QA– it’s Metro. Go Rodrigo!

Relegating Buses to Second-Class Status


WMATA Bus Stop in Hyattsville, MD

Here’s a great post about how much the location of a bus stop matters. Poorly-located or -designed stops discourage riders from using the bus, unless they absolutely have to. Additionally, the fact that some malls don’t want bus stops on their property reinforces the “second-class” perception of that mode of tranpsort:

The result is to create additional burdens on those using the bus for shopping, requiring them to haul or push their purchases a significant distance to the bus stop, a process that would be particularly unpleasant in rain or snow (or, here in Vegas, when it’s 117 degrees), or for those with mobility issues.

When mass transit stops are systematically located in inconvenient or isolated areas, it disadvantages those who are dependent on public transportation and discourages others from choosing to ride rather than driving their own car, and reinforces a common perception of the bus, in particular, as an inferior form of transportation…

Metro’s “Grab-bag of Good Ideas”


Metro Center

After the escalators at L’Enfant Plaza malfunctioned ten days ago, injuring several people, I worried about how safe they were. The Greater Greater Washington blog has obtained a copy of the report that WMATA commissioned on elevator and escalator maintenance. Their verdict? It’s not good:

Quite simply, the escalator report is not well done. It doesn’t specify the specific goal of the audit, and ends up being a grab-bag of several findings, many positive and many negative…If the brake issues were a real concern to the consultant, the report certainly doesn’t reflect that. They are buried between recommendations for better housekeeping and for better training in the Maintenance Management System.

This gets to the heart of the real problems facing Metro. As we have repeated on several occasions, Metro’s fundamental flaw in both maintenance and safety is its inability to proactively prioritize action items based on how much an issue contributes to downtime or risk of injury.

Instead, Metro creates grab-bags of good ideas, pursues them in no particular order, and then when a major incident occurs reactively spends mountains of money addressing the immediate causes of that incident. Metro is doing the same here, by now testing the brakes on every escalator in the system.

Not everyone can afford to keep a car or live somewhere where they can walk to everything they need; people depend on Metro. It’s disheartening that WMATA is unable to prioritize access to safe transportation over housekeeping. I love a clean station, too. But when I spent the better part of a year with my mobility impaired, limping in a brace, a sparkly floor meant nothing to me if I had to pass a broken elevator and then stumble down a broken escalator to enjoy it.

Taking Liberties with Expiration Dates


This is NOT the corner store in question. This one is in Brooklyn.

I was reading Prince of Petworth, a blog which encourages readers to write in if they have a question. Today’s reader submission worried me; a corner market in D.C. is replacing the Manufacturer’s expiration date with their own (including meat products!):

“I caught this once…some Purdue chicken…I peeled back their sticker and found a manufacturers date that indicated expiration was 5 days sooner.

Anyways, I’ve gone back twice since to try and catch them, and both times found that they had scrubbed off the manufacturers expiration date before applying their own sticker.

I’m concerned for a lot of reasons…Is what they are doing illegal? Most disturbing is the fact that I reported this yesterday to the Department of Consumer and regulatory affairs food safety office…and no one has returned my message yet (It’s been over 24 hours).”

PoP blogger Dan Silverman offered to put them in touch with someone immediately, but what several commenters are disturbed by is the lack of identifying information for the market. Understandably, there is none because the letter-writer is worried about a defamation suit; he has offered to provide more details via email.