Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wisconsin & Newark Giant Launch on Sept. 9

This is the day a lot of people thought would never arrive.  The renovation of the old Giant at Wisconsin and Newark is finally going to start.  Here's the "Invitation to Giant Launch" that went out to the community from Rose Jackson, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Avenue Giant Redevelopment Team:

Giant Food President Robin Michel invites you to join Mayor Adrian Fenty, Council Chair Vincent Gray, Councilmember Mary Cheh and Councilmember Kwame Brown as we introduce

Plans for our new Wisconsin Avenue Giant at  Cathedral Commons

Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 2 pm

Giant Food Parking Lot
3336 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Food, Fun, and Festivities

All are welcome to attend!


  1. Seems a bit insensitive for Giant to choose Rosh Hashanah to launch "Cathedral Commons."

  2. An altogether terrible time--not only Rosh Hashana but the middle of a workday for everyone else. They couldn't do a weekend or early evening on a non-holiday? Tone deaf.

  3. Yay, we're finally going to get a new, modern supermarket.

    It's always bugged me how the Cleveland Park Citizens Association has said one thing but done another. They've claimed to be in favor of a new, modern Giant blah blah blah, but have opposed it in action. They opposed it 10 years ago when the plans were getting going, the CPCA opposed it before the zoning commission. And now the CPCA still refuses to change it's official anti-Giant position.

    But no matter, the neighborhood will finally get a nice, well-stocked supermarket.

  4. It is unbelievable that neither the president of a company that was founded by a Jewish family, the mayor and his opponent, or any of the council members invited to this event paid attention to the fact that it was Rosh Hashana. Its as insulting as it is insensitive...and rather stupid!

  5. It is curious that Giant is launching their new store at "Cathedral
    Commons" on Rosh Hashanah. Lynne suggests that's "insensitive"; I
    suggest it's also impractical, as the nearby Washington Hebrew
    Congregation's several services that day usually bring hundreds of
    cars looking to park in Giant's lot and on surrounding streets.

    I'm surprised Giant didn't choose another day, but maybe Sept. 9 is
    the only day they can get Mayor Fenty, Vincent Gray, Mary Cheh and
    Kwame Brown all together before the primary election. Is that Giant's priority?

  6. What's especially telling is that both Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray are coming together to show their support for the new Giant supermarket. The anti-Giant forces (so few in number) need to move on. Game over. A new Giant supermarket is coming to Cleveland Park.

  7. As some of you know, I wrote to Giant officials questioning the choice of Thursday, September 9 for the launch of the new store, since that is the first day of Rosh Hashanah. I received a reply from Sharon Robinson, a consultant for Giant, stating that they scheduled the launch "for a brief hour in the afternoon to accommodate those who were planning to go to Synagogue..." She noted the contribution of "many neighbors of various religious beliefs" to the project and said that they want to accommodate everyone. Robinson also said, "we were not trying to be insensitive and certainly meant no disrepect."

    The reply contained no offer to reschedule.

    In my opinion, this response betrays continued insensitivity to, or perhaps just plain ignorance of the importance of the entire day to the vast majority of Jews, who, even if they don't spend every waking minute in synagogue, at least refrain from most ordinary activities as a measure of respect for this High Holy Day.

  8. I've written directly to Giant's representative Rose Jackson and asked that she post a response about the scheduling of the launch to the Cleveland Park Listserv where she announced it. Lynne originally wrote to her via the Listerv, but there's been no response there. I think it's a further insult to ignore other Listserv subscribers who share this concern.
    Mark Rosenman

  9. The concern about the Rosh Hashanah scheduling was already posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv. I agree with you that it was insensitive, but once a point's been made, we wouldn't post a repeat of the complaint, especially one that calls for a particular list member to respond.
    --Peggy Robin, CP Listserv Moderator,

  10. I agree that Rosh Hashanah was a bad choice for a party. But it's only a party. It's not a hearing or a vote or anything substantive. And neither the Mayor nor Vincent Gray nor any of the other luminaries who are attending seemed to notice that it's the Jewish New Year, too.

    I get a sense, though, that people who oppose the Giant are still trying to do whatever they can to make the Giant look like the evil empire. Another for instance: You can tell who's opposed to the Giant supermarket because many of its opponents call the company Giant/Ahold, apparently in an attempt to cast the Giant supermarket as part of some large multinational corporation, rather than an neighborhood supermarket. (Ahold is Giant's parent company.)

    But the fact is that the Giant will be coming and Cleveland Park will get a new, modern supermarket. Isn't it time for the Giant's opponents to let it go and accept this supermarket with civility (rather than trying every last thing, such as a lawsuit, to stop it)?

  11. One has to admit that " Giant Ahold" has a certain ring to it. (And, as we've seen, it's certainly not Izzy Cohen's store anymore.)

    "Clarendon Commons" might be a better name than Cathedral Commons. Or perhaps the Giant "Town Center," because that's how Giant's consultants have described the development project. And Clarendon Commons because, while a better grocery is to be welcomed, the architecture is rather mediocre and doesn't really relate at all to the project's surroundings. (Certainly it doesn't relate to the Cathedral, but that name is just a marketing gimmick.) Look at the Giant web site; the architectural renderings pretty much look like the generic projects that you see in Clarendon, Shirlington or Rockville.

  12. I've looked at the Giant's website,, and I'm excited about what's coming. So is Adrian Fenty, Vincent Gray, Mary Cheh, and Kwame Brown. The project is supported by the Zoning Board and the vast majority of neighbors.

    It looks great!

    But what I have yet to see are any of the people behind the (bound to lose) lawsuit speak out about what's in their lawsuit or why they're pursuing this seeming act of desperation.

    I have yet to see the Cleveland Park Citizens Association divorce itself from the past and support this project that so many people want and the neighborhood needs. (The CPCA's silence speaks volumes about that organization, but that's another issue.)

    It is unfortunate that some individuals and groups can't get behind the new Giant and the residential/commercial complex. But it's coming, whether they support it or not.

  13. Bravo! The better part of 11 years coming to a close, for the improvement of the neighborhood retail center.

  14. Giant/Ahold is just a poorly run company all around. I've visited their other new, large stores, and the stores have uniformly poor quality produce, meat and fish. They do, however, have rows and rows of junky snacks and cheap toys and gizmos. I value the quality of the store, more than the size. I'll never shop there, except perhaps in a snowstorm, and I doubt many of my neighbors will either. I suspect there would be more support for project proposed by Safeway or virtually any other grocery store chain.

  15. "I'll never shop there, except perhaps in a snowstorm, and I doubt many of my neighbors will either," writes somebody who doesn't support the Giant.

    Exactly my point. For whatever reason, there are some people who don't want a new, modern Giant supermarket. Is it because Giant's owned by a Dutch company? Is it because they're afraid that people from outside of Cleveland Park will shop here? Is it because they feel that a small supermarket serves the community just as well? Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are yes: Giant's opponents have used all of these arguments against a new, modern supermarket.

    Fortunately, the opponents are not only in the minority --a very tiny minority-- but they've lost the battle. Giant is coming.

  16. It is wonderful that after all these delays we are finally going to get a well-stocked, well-appointed supermarket. The opponents of the Giant have tried everything they can (including trivial lawsuits) to stop this important development. It is time to accept that the new Giant is going to be built.

  17. Anonymous writes: "Giant/Ahold is just a poorly run company all around. I've visited their other new, large stores, and the stores have uniformly poor quality produce, meat and fish."

    I simply don't believe you are telling the truth. If the quality of the produce is so uniformly bad, why have you been to so many of their stores? Perhaps you take some sick pleasure in visiting places you know you won't enjoy.

    "I'll never shop there, except perhaps in a snowstorm, and I doubt many of my neighbors will either."

    I would be amazed if many of your neighbors take your ridiculous stance on the proposed new store. Unless you haven't studied any economics, having vast retail spaces sit idle isn't very good for the local economy.

  18. I would agree that idle space is not good for the economy, but that fact in itself does not make Giant a good quality store. It is routinely ranked below most other chains in the metropolitan area. Wegmans, Safeway, Whole Foods all rank higher. The store will be stocked, but probably with the same mediocre food they have in their other stores.

  19. [Giant] is routinely ranked below most other chains in the metropolitan area. Wegmans, Safeway, Whole Foods all rank higher. The store will be stocked, but probably with the same mediocre food they have in their other stores.

    Says who? Who says that Giant is ranked below other supermarkets? It sounds to me like this is a case of sour grapes (pardon the supermarket pun): The truth of Giant battle is that many people, including the Cleveland Park Citizens Association by its actions, never ever wanted the Giant.

    All those arguments about the building being historic, about the "Comprehensive Plan" being violated, about parking were a smokescreen. The CPCA represents the anti-Giant contingent (a very minuscule minority of neighbors.) The fact that the CPCA refuses to change its official anti-Giant position is very telling.

  20. The store will be built, but it is still a ways off. It will be at least a year and possibly 18 months (according to Giant) until construction begins, and then another two years to build. 2013 at the earliest.

  21. Indications are that next year Giant Stop & Shop intends to demolish both blocks from Macomb to Ordway Streets together. This is a change from what it represented to the Zoning Commission, that it planned to phase construction so that existing businesses could stay on the property. By early spring, Giant Stop & Shop plans to start evicting Sullivan's Toys, the children’s ballet studio, the cleaners and a number of other valued establishments between Newark and Ordway, where every commercial space is currently full.

    And what will replace them? In the PUD submission, the developers showed the Zoning Commission photos of the indicative retail they have in mind for “Cathedral Commons” -- Pottery Barn, Godiva Chocolate, Border's -- all regional mall-type stores. There will be no specialty fish market, and probably no Sullivan's, because StreetWorks, the development consultant, made clear that nothing will be allowed to directly compete with Giant, which plans to sell even plastic toys. I don't really care about having a Pottery Barn or Godiva within walking distance, but I don't want to have to get in my car to go to the barber or buy a quality toy for a child's birthday party -- all things we can walk to now. Maybe that's growth, but it sure isn't "smart", or very useful.

  22. If one went to the meeting they had the following Monday they would know that the demolition has always been from Idaho to the end of what was the chinese restaurant down to behind the apartment building to Idaho and across to the coerner where Sun Trust is. Just like highways it is alweays cheaper to do it in stages. Some people suggested that maybe they could keep the Giant open or construct a temporary store. That was never answered. It also was said that they are talking to the neighbors and are senistive. If someone heard that businesses were leaving as early as Janauary there must ahve been another meeting. I think that most negativity is still a hope they give up. If they give up you will have a shell where the Giant was as well as the pharmacy and no one will want to develop. It is time to move on and realize in the long run we are all better if the work is done sooner than later.

  23. Well, Giant's representative was much clearer at the ANC meeting on Monday night. He said that Giant almost certainly will empty out and demolish the two blocks at one time. This means that Sullivans, the yoga studio and the other neighborhood stores will be evicted, probably by spring. ANC commissioners, even some who had been vocal supporters of the project, expressed surprise at Giant's change of plans and said that Giant was reneging on its promises to the Zoning Commission to phase the construction so that existing businesses could stay if they wanted to. Giant also said nothing further about earlier assurances that it would offer favorable rents to existing tenants so that they could continue in the new development, in exchange for the additional density it asked for at the site. One reason that Giant gave for evicting the tenants and not phasing the project is that the magnitude of the truck traffic to and from the project during demolition and construction will make conditions around the site nearly intolerable for any businesses remaining during phased construction.