Walmart at NJ & H?

In yesterday’s Washingtonpost it was announced that Walmart plans to open four locations inside the District. This includes a location just across the street from Triangle at New Jersey and H Streets NW (801 New Jersey Ave NW). It has been suggested that Walmart has a strategy for a more urban friendly format. (UPDATE: Walmart press release)

Do you like the idea of a Walmart at NJ Ave and H Street?

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The three other DC locations mentioned by the WaPo article are in areas of the district (Upper Georgia, Deanwood and Bladensburg Ave) that are starving for retail. Will our neighborhood really benefit from this? Do you expect it to be a catalyst like the Target in Columbia Heights or adversely impact local retailers such as Fifth Street Hardware?

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  1. 3


    Depends on what the he!! an urban friendly format Walmart is? They could start by not calling it Walmart or anything Mart. or maybe they could frenchify it like Tar-jhey or Col-behr…What do they sell there anyway? i have been to one only once looking for potatoes. The clerk looked at me like I was insane as I described a potato then led me to boxed mashed potato mix.

    This might not be the right kind of retail for the central downtown area. We need things that appeal to some combination of residents, visitors and workers.

    Oh and one more thing, that site at 801 NJ is not a bad prospective location but I am adamantly opposed to plunking a big box with surface parking in the downtown area. Even a big box with underground parking is not cool unless its configured like whole foods on P Street which has a very nice relationship to the street and does not take up the entire block.

  2. 4

    washingtonydc says

    I haven’t stepped foot in one of their stores in nearly a decade, so I can’t say that I’m a fan–but I do caution against immediate NIMBYism from local residents. While there are plenty of arguments against the company–and trust me, I’ve heard them all–it’s hard to dismiss it without any further discussion when our fair city has nearly 10 percent unemployment. (Not to mention that it would be one less parking lot in the area.) So I vote unsure because I’d like to know more information, hear more from the company, and see how it goes.

  3. 5

    FourthandEye says

    @Si – I think urban friendly means underground parking rather than surface parking, an entrance that fronts to the street, a grocery component, and a smaller building footprint. I can’t forsee Tommy Wells supporting the Walmart without the underground parking.

    I think @washingtonydc has a point that there are some merits. But I’m also leary of touting this as creating 1200 jobs. How many will it eliminate by closing down local retailers? I don’t really know the answer but I suspect it’s not a trivial amount.

  4. 6

    Sadie says

    No this is the worst idea ever- I hate Walmart and will never shop there! How dare they build their big box stores inside the district, this is not the place for that. I don’t care if they build them out in the suburbs but these stores are not made for cities. Its a bad company that had already gotten way too large, let’s not support their expansion.

  5. 7


    the press release says they plan to open in late 2012. no way they can go thru all the approvals, get permits, dig the hole and build in 2 years? It might be possible for a surface development.

    Another thing that might make sense is to do this in conjunction with a residential mixed retail development, bring more customers in, increase density. do we know who owns the land?

  6. 8

    Nate Mason says

    I am trying to think of businesses in the Triangle that might be threatened by Walmart and I’m not thinking of any. Safeway could use the competition on groceries, but I don’t think would actually be threatened. Ace isn’t exactly a mom & pop and has far more hardware than Walmart usually carries. The rest of the stores around downtown are mostly restaurants, services, and various speciality retailers not in competition with Walmart. Target helped retail tremendously in Columbia Heights. I don’t see why Walmart would be any different here. I’m excited for it.

  7. 10

    Shipsa01 says

    If DC (and WMATA) would ever separate the Blue Line, there is a stop planned for New Jersey and H; then the property could actually turn into a desirable neighborhood. But that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

  8. 12

    durhonka says

    I live near that intersection. I think it would be great to have a Wal-Mart there. I doubt if it would be one of their full-size stores, probably one of the mini-Wal-Marts they’ve been experimenting with in urban areas. Here are the reasons why I support: (1) All of the economic arguments against Wal-Mart have been refuted over and over again by legit economists – most of the anti-Wal-Mart stuff is just simplisitic union propaganda. (2) Many DC residents already shop at Wal-Mart, they just drive out to the burbs. Keep the sales tax and jobs in DC! (3) When people save $ at Wal-Mart they spend that money elsewhere. Even though overpriced “mom & pop” stores that take advantage of the urban poor may go out of business, Wal-Mart’s customers will spend the money they save at speciality shops, restaurants, theaters, and other businesses. (4) There’s a huge shortage of shopping in DC. Go to the Columbia Heights Target sometime and look at all the empty shelves! We need retail in the district. (5) Tons of new businesses always try to relocate near Wal-Mart to take advantage of the foot traffic. NOMA will come alive with new businesses that follow Wal-Mart’s lead. I guarantee everyone nearby will see their land values go up.

  9. 13

    5th and M says

    “Over the last several decades in small town America Walmart has had an effect on being detrimental to local retail.”

    Having the above statement adjacent to the poll is going to negatively bias the survey results. If the poll’s validity is valued, I’d suggest removing it for the time being or placing it on a different page.

  10. 14

    John Thompson says

    Sorry guys, with all the knowledge as to why Walmart is bad, I’m all for NIMBYism on this one.

    Here’s some good reading for our community:

    New Study Suggests Wal-Mart’s Economic Impact a Wash for Urban Communities:

    Research on Walmart:

    WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price:

  11. 16

    FourthandEye says

    >> “the press release says they plan to open in late 2012. no way they can go thru all the approvals, get permits, dig the hole and build in 2 years? It might be possible for a surface development.”

    One of the articles I read says they plan to do the development by right and seek no variances. But it still seems very aggressive if it is planned as mixed use. It is a little difficult for me to imagine an outcome as favorable as the Columbia Heights target if they fast track this to limit input.

  12. 17

    4th & L NW says

    Please don’t let the Walmart come into our neighborhood! Besides the obvious detrimental impact to our property values, the proposed intersection cannot support the increased traffic. If you’ve ever taken the Mass. Ave exit out of the 395 tunnel, you know what I mean. Further,the few times I shopped in Walmart I’ve found its goods to be of poor quality (in contrast with Target).

  13. 19

    FourthandEye says

    Si is correct that the 2nd Street ramp off of I-395 will be reconfigured. There is also a pending project in the Mount Vernon Triangle master plan to convert New Jersey Ave into a two way street.

  14. 20

    durhonka says

    Re: John Thompson’s posts. All of the websites he links to are biased. was set up by a bunch of California unions to try and stop Wal-Mart’s entrance into the California grocery market – because they knew that Wal-Mart’s low prices would destroy the unionized grocers.

    Some commonsense facts:

    (1) Wal-Mart is a store just like Target or Safeway or CVS or Walgreens or Best Buy. There are plenty of CVS’s in DC, but they haven’t caused the end of the world yet. Why would Wal-Mart be so awful?

    (2) All economic development is good. If overpriced stores go out of business, the customers spend their money at other stores: new stores open. You have to really twist your brain into a pretzel shape to argue that economic development is bad. If economic development were bad, Zimbabwe and North Korea would be the world’s richest countries.

    (3) Lower prices raises your standard of living – your money goes further.

    (4) Wal-Mart’s wages and benefits are similar to Target, Best Buy, CVS, etc. It’s a decent place to work if you are a low skilled worker. Many of the unemployed in DC are low skilled works who lack education; they’re not going to be getting any high-paid jobs soon. And working at Wal-Mart is better than having no job at all.

    (5) Those parts of the country with the most Wal-Mart’s (the South, the lower Midwest, the mountain states) have the lowest unemployment rates. Those parts of the country with the fewest Wal-Marts have the highest unemployment rates (California, upper Midwest, urban ares). If Wal-Mart killed jobs, why do the states with lots of Wal-Mart’s have such low unemployment?

    When it comes to Wal-Mart, you have to look past all the silly union propaganda that’s out there. Most economists nation wide praise Wal-Mart as a great company – one of the greatest technology companies of the last 30 years – that has done wonderful things for the American economy.

    Also: If you don’t want to shop there, then don’t. Vote with your feet. Let them build the Wal-Mart and we’ll all just vote with our feet, shopping where we want. You don’t have to be pro-Wal-Mart, just try being pro-choice about Wal-Mart!

  15. 21


    matter of right or not, its evident Walmart = controversy so we will advocate ardently for a community process. There is an opportunity here to replace another funky parking lot. If we just say NO, we will keep a funky parking lot. But if we get involved we could help shape it into something potentially beneficial to the community, and help build the community density. i look forward to hearing what they want to do.

  16. 22

    durhonka says

    I agree with Si Kailian. People need to keep an open mind and see what the developers have in mind. I just got a bit put off when I saw that certain people logged in early this morning and immediately pronounced it “HORRIBLE” without giving any specifics. And then they proceeded to nationalize this neighborhood development project by linking to a bunch of far left-wing anti-Wal-Mart/anti-corporate propaganda websites. Don’t nationalize this issue. Don’t walk into this with pre-conceived notions. If you enjoy debating grand theoretical issues about the alleged evils of suburban sprawl – good for you. But I feel like we should keep this debate about this development in this neighborhood at this time.

  17. 24

    Scott says

    We don’t make anything anymore and its having a detrimental impact on our economy. The U.S. has 5.5 million fewer manufacturing jobs and 50,000 fewer factories today than it did in 2000. Cheap stuff is great, but not if you don’t have a job (or have a job that pays minimum wage). I truly believe that consumers want to buy American-made goods, but part of the reason you can’t find them is companies like Walmart, which sells Chinese crap including cancer-causing cadmium jewelry. Forget the 300+ jobs it purports to be creating and think of all the manufacturing jobs in China, Vietnam, and Malaysia that you will be supporting each time you shop there. When does the madness end?

  18. 25

    John Thompson says

    durhonka, one would think you were from Bentonville, Arkansas yourself with a post like that. What neighborhood in DC do you live & & how long have you been a DC resident? Maybe you can attend our next meeting & we can chat about it.

  19. 26

    John Thompson says

    @ Beaner & Scott: +10 points each.
    @ durhonka: -20 points.

    I will proudly wear my NIMBY badge on this one. Funny, I think this is the 1st thing I’ve ever been opposed to in my 17 years of living in this city with regard to development.

    As a property owner & someone that is hopeful for the future of great retail in this corridor, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m in opposition. I know I’m not alone in this from the number of neighbors that have approached me, called and emailed me. Actually, I haven’t heard anyone from City Vista that is in ANY way excited about this – while I’ve heard from a considerable number of people that are opposed.

    Maybe the supporters are simply renters in the neighborhood & aren’t worried about their property values. Maybe it’s college students that just want an inexpensive place to shop. Maybe it’s people that don’t even live here. The vibe I’ve gotten from my building hasn’t been positive, I can say that much.

    The developers are really scraping the bottom of the barrel with this choice. I’m sure the developer can come up with other options that most, if not all residents would be happy with. Our opinions count – after all, we live here and have property in this neighborhood.

    Walmart HAS been shot down & defeated by residents in other towns & cities. Nothing’s a done deal at this point. We can make a difference, people do it all the time. Look at the Vincent Gray/Streetcar incident if you need proof.

  20. 27

    John Thompson says

    At durhonka: I don’t know about biased – I think they’re simply stating the truth. The truth about Walmart may upset you, hence your opinion that the sites are biased. Biased or not, it doesn’t mean that they’re wrong. If you can prove to me that the negative stuff those sites cite are wrong beyond a doubt, go for it (good luck with that).

    I hardly think the studies done by Loyola & The University of Illinois are biased. Sorry, Charlie.

    Loyola’s Study:

    University of Illinois Study:
    New Study Suggests Wal-Mart’s Economic Impact a Wash for Urban Communities:

  21. 28


    Ron Amos, chair of the ANC 6C Planning & Zoning committee anticipates this developer making multiple appearances. MVSNA will also get involved so the community will have ample opportunity to weigh in on this process.

  22. 29

    durhonka says


    John Thompson, You know as well as I do that one can scour the internet and find “studies” that prove anything. This Loyola study was conducted by the university’s “Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL)” – i.e. left-wing urban activists. If this were a study conducted by a serious economics department (such as Univ. of Chicago’s econ dept), I might believe it. Second, the methodology of this study is almost laughable. It relied on telephone surveys of local retailers before and after Wal-Mart’s entrance into the market. Calling someone up and asking their casual opinion about whether or not business has increased in the last six months isn’t exactly scientific. Further, they only surveyed retailers. As has been pointed out again and again to the anti-Wal-Mart zealots, Wal-Mart may cause a decrease in retail employment as competing retailers get more lean and efficient – but consumers spend the money they save at Wal-Mart and its leaner competitors at non-retail businesses – specialty shops, gyms, restaurants, theaters, etc. In other words, to accurately measure Wal-Mart’s impact on the local economy, the Loyola activists should have surveyed all local businesses – not just the retailers directly competing with Wal-Mart. (I mean, seriously, they only surveyed businesses competing directly with Wal-Mart, so DUH they found those businesses were hurting.) The survey also didn’t take into account the lower prices, and the impact that has for the people who shop there. These so-called “mom & pop” stores that had been taking advantage of the urban poor – charging $3.00 for the same box of mac & cheese that Wal-Mart sells for 50 cents were probably having a hard time competing with Wal-Mart. This survey does not in any way attempt to account for the money saved by urban poor. Nor does this so-called “study” explain why (if Wal-Mart has been soooo bad for Chicago) the Chicago city council has given Wal-Mart the green light to build dozens of more stores in the city over the next few years.

    If this were a Target being proposed, I doubt you’d be opposed to it. Target and Wal-Mart are almost the exact same company – nearly identical business models (except that Target markets itself to rich white urban yuppies). The only reason you’re opposed to the Wal-Mart is that you’ve been programmed by far-left anti-corporate/anti-Wal-Mart propaganda in the media. Keep your religion to yourself.

  23. 30

    durhonka says


    John Thompson, You acted like these were two separate studies – they’re not. The Univ. of Illinois link you provided is a press release from the Univ. of Illinois about the highly questionable survey conducted by the urban activists at Loyola. So it looks to me like you’re now actively attempting to mislead people by linking to various press releases about the same study and pretending like they are separate studies.

  24. 31

    durhonka says

    To once again respond to John’s propaganda, I’d like to emphasize that this is a neighborhood not a City Vista country club – or whatever he imagines it is.

    “I will proudly wear my NIMBY badge on this one.” You don’t know yet what’s going to be in your backyard. You haven’t seen the proposal. You’re making up your mind without much information. And, beside,s the proposed development is not in your backyard – it’s several blocks away. Also, you live in a condo tower. You don’t have backyard. What you’re calling your “backyard” is a neighborhood, and it belongs to all of us.

    “As a property owner & someone that is hopeful for the future of great retail in this corridor, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m in opposition. I know I’m not alone in this from the number of neighbors that have approached me, called and emailed me.” You keep emphasizing how rich you and your friends are. We’re duly impressed. It sounds like you’re arguing that only property owners have a right to an opinion on this issue – very 18th-Century of you. Again, this isn’t your backyard or your private investment; this is a neighborhood where all sorts of people live.

    Look, all of those college students and poor black people who live in this neighborhood use all the same stores that you do. And if they save a couple hundred dollars a month per household because they have access to Wal-Mart they are going to be spending that $ at other businesses in the area. For instance, if a bunch of us lowly tenants were saving $100 a month each on groceries, we might have been able to purchase gym memberships and Results would still be open. Personally, I drive out to Alexandria once a week and spend over $200 on groceries and basic household items at Wal-Mart, Target, Costco. Believe me, I would rather be spending my money right here in our neighborhood (Please Note: I refer to it as “our neighborhood” – not “my backyard.” Thx.)

    The retailers in our neighborhood can’t rely solely on you and your rich friends in the City Vista tower – if you want a flourishing, diverse neighborhood, you need to let in stores that will bring in lots of people. If you don’t want diversity and a flourishing neighborhood with many types of businesses, perhaps you and your rich property-owning buddies should relocate to a gated subdivision somewhere (where you will each of your own backyards to control).

    Low prices = money saved = money spent at other businesses. This is how capitalism works. This is kindergarten economics. If the Wal-Mart goes up, a bunch of other businesses will spring up around it. It will be far better than the empty parking lots, fenced off fields, and housing projects that are in our neighborhood currently.

  25. 32

    FourthandEye says

    @John/Durhonka – Come on guys. Dial down the snark a notch. It’s not needed to make whatever points you have.

  26. 33

    4th & L NW says

    If the intersection around Mass Ave/H St/ NJ Ave are changed, then development at 801 NJ Ave NW could be good for the neighborhood. I still question, however, how accessible that spot is to those coming from the metro. If a big box store goes in, I would prefer a Target over a Walmart because I routinely have found the quality of goods at Walmart to be poor, while Target’s products are both high quality and a good value.

  27. 34

    MyTwoCents says

    I am not eager to see a Walmart in the MVT. I prefer smaller format, specialty stores than the behemoths whose value proposition is driven by cost and bulk. And I am definitely not looking forward to the increased vehicular traffic that a Walmart is bound to generate. The combination of Walmart traffic, gameday Verizon center traffic and the expected increase in convention center traffic can turn 395 and the MVT roads into a parking lot in few years.

  28. 36

    FourthandEye says

    @Shipsa01 – A separated Blue Line would be fantastic. But it will probably cost $10 or 20 billion dollars and take 20 years to plan and construct. Walmart will be here in ~3 years.

    However NJ and H is on the planned extension of the H Street Streetcar to the future K Street transitway. That’s a more realistic transit improvement to focus on w/r/t Walmart.

  29. 37

    FourthandEye says

    @MyTwoCents – Walmart has led Councilmember Tommy Wells to believe the NJ and H store will focus primarily on groceries. If it’s more a grocery store than a full-on supercenter then hopefully the influx of traffic won’t be THAT brutal.

  30. 38

    MyTwoCents says

    Thanks for that comment FourthandEye! Walmart tends to have the same effect as Southwest. They both lower prices and they increase traffic. They might restrict the scope of their services but their effect will still be found. Companies can always be smart to offer 60% of their regular product mix to still capture 80% of their usual customer traffic.
    My concern is with all the current traffic in MVT and the expected development, including the proposed City center, the 395 might suffer the equivalent of a coronary block, and the backspill will end up right in the MVT. Also, the H street redevelopment can only add more pressure to this. A traffic study can indicate how much longer we can keep building before the traffic gets outs of control, and Walmart will certainly not help the cause.
    I love MVT but I still would like to take my car out of MVT, and vice-versa have people visit me.

  31. 39

    Jen says

    Walmart is so ghetto, this is not welcomed news. Target, on the other hand, would be great.

  32. 40

    Mario says

    Traffic is already pretty bad near NJ and H. This will only make it worse. We need several smaller/affordable grocery stores for residents. Not a big ass store that will snarl traffic that’s already bad.