‘Whole Foods ef­fect’ shows PG County eco­nomic growth

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY JU­LIA BROUILLETTE

Prince Ge­orge’s County is bask­ing in the “Whole Foods ef­fect” now that the up­scale or­ganic gro­cer has opened its doors at the Riverdale Park Sta­tion de­vel­op­ment, county of­fi­cials say.

“It’s a big deal,” said Brad Frome, one of the county’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment lead­ers. “The fact that they’re in­vest­ing here and open­ing a store here is an af­fir­ma­tion of the di­rec­tion the county’s head­ing in.”

Af­ter six years fraught with de­lays, the county’s first Whole Foods opened April 12, an­chor­ing a $250 mil­lion town cen­ter be­tween U.S. Route 1 (Bal­ti­more Avneue) and the CSX train tracks.

A Star­bucks opened ear­lier this month at Riverdale Park Sta­tion, and five restau­rants — District Taco, Habit Burger, Mod Pizza, Jer­sey Mike’s Subs and Bur­tons Grill & Bar — are set to open at the site this spring.

A Gold’s Gym, an Old Line Bank branch and a Com­cast ca­ble TV of­fice also have signed leases at the com­plex, along with a nail spa and a phys­i­cal ther­apy fa­cil­ity.

Just north of Mary­land Route 410 (East-West High­way), 16 of the to­tal 120 town­houses planned for the site are un­der con­struc­tion, priced in the $400,000s.

Mr. Frome said the Riverdale shop­ping cen­ter serves as a bea­con of eco­nomic growth in the county, which his­tor­i­cally has lagged be­hind the rest of the re­gion in terms of at­tract­ing high­end re­tail­ers.

“It’s an anec­dote to the big­ger progress of the county over the last six years,” said Scott Peter­son, spokesman for County Ex­ec­u­tive Rush­ern Baker.

Grand open­ings at the Riverdale Park Sta­tion fol­low the De­cem­ber pre­miere of the $1.4 bil­lion MGM Na­tional Harbor casino re­sort, and a surge of re­de­vel­op­ment in Lau­rel.

The Route 1 cor­ri­dor, where Whole Foods is lo­cated, is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a con­struc­tion boom that ex­tends all the way to the District line, with new res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial projects in the pipe­line for Hy­attsville, ac­cord­ing to Mr. Peter­son.

But land­ing a deal with the Austin, Texas-based gro­cery store of­fi­cially put Prince Ge­orge’s County in the “up and com­ing” cat­e­gory, he said.

“Get­ting the Whole Foods wasn’t as easy as you’d think,” Mr. Mr. Peter­son said, re­fer­ring to push­back from res­i­dents against in­creas­ing traf­fic in the area. “There were peo­ple who didn’t want it. And yet, there is a Whole Foods ef­fect, and we un­der­stood what it means for not only that com­mu­nity, but the en­tire county.”

On Tues­day, nearly a week af­ter its rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony, Whole Foods bus­tled with shop­pers, most of them flocked around the store’s pre­pared food sec­tion.

“The com­mu­nity has re­ally em­braced the store,” said Michael Fowler, the store’s man­ager. “The most popular area right now is the culi­nary area, with our wood­fired pizza and or­ganic salad bar.”

Ev­ery evening, the store is packed with stu­dents from the nearby Univer­sity of Mary­land-Col­lege Park cam­pus, he said.

“It’s be­come more of a des­ti­na­tion, not just a place to grab gro­ceries, and that’s re­ally ex­cit­ing for us,” Mr. Fowler said.


Cus­tomers dine at the Whole Foods mar­ket cafe in the new Riverdale Park Sta­tion shop­ping cen­ter. The store opened April 12 af­ter six years fraught with de­lays.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.