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PATCH POLL: What Kind of Grocery Store Do You Want in College Park?

Developers recently said they hope to open a grocery store someday in the College Park Shopping Center.

After developers  at the College Park Shopping Center, conversation ensued among residents— and at a recent citizens association meeting—about which grocery store they wanted most.

Out of curiosity, let's put it to a poll. If College Park got another grocery store, what do you hope it would be?

And with the Shoppers and already in the city, does College Park need another grocery store? Is it dependent on whether or not the is approved? It would bring a Whole Foods Market just south of College Park.

Ken Montville January 30, 2012 at 11:37 AM
You forgot the question: "Should a new College Park grocery store also be allowed to sell beer and wine?" That seems to be a real sticking point. I, personally, think the Whole Foods at the Cafritz site would be puh-lenty for the area but if people insist that the College Park Shopping Center is the place to have it - does it really have to be yet another place to sell beer and wine???
Shannon Hoffman January 30, 2012 at 02:23 PM
That's a good question, could be a future poll. Thanks!
John Essex January 30, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Ken, that reminds me: Will the Whole Foods be allowed to sell beer and wine? I think the pro-WF crowd take it as a given, but you know how Maryland's blue laws can be.
Aaron January 30, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Whole Paycheck is too expensive even for this upper middle class professional to be a regular go to store. I know of many people who are the target Whole Paycheck demographic who feel the same way. Harris Teeter or Trader Joe's are a good bit cheaper. Also having a store in relative walking distance from campus and the surrounding College Park neighborhood is a good idea vs. a hike down to Cafritz.
Nick January 30, 2012 at 06:54 PM
What is Whole Paycheck?
Danny January 30, 2012 at 07:13 PM
it's the name given to Whole Foods by those who consider Whole Foods overpriced.
Adelphi Sky January 30, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Not sure why Wegmans is in there. There's no where to put it. They require huge lot sizes and tons of surface parking. College Park doesn't have any open land that size. Is MOMs and Shoppers sufficient? Absolutly not. It requires both students and residents of Downtown College Park to hop in their cars and clog Rt. 1. I think Trader Joes is not sufficient to appeal to the 45,000+ students, staff, and visitors at UMD. It has a very narrow selection of food. Safeway and Giant are familiar stores, but Safeway seems to be hightailing it out of the area as fast as it can. There's a Giant in Greenbelt and Hyattsville. They would have a near monopoly in the College Park/Greenbelt/Hyattsville area. I'm not sure I've ever seen one grocer with stores so close together. I think Harris Teeter would be good. They seem to be doing well in urban settings with small square-footage to work with.
Adelphi Sky January 30, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I do agree with you here. I think Whole Foods needs to evaluate their profit margins and rewrite some contracts with suppliers. Other than their meats, Other organic stores come in much cheaper. MOMs is great, but their meat section lacks variety. In addition, they have no prepared food section. This is what I love about Whole Foods. I don't think I've ever seen a prepared food section as yummy and plentiful as Whole Foods. I think the most expensive items you'll find in Whole Foods are the meats and seafood. Unfortunately, Giant, Safeway, and Shoppers have not gotten around to selling a wide selection of organic meats and seafood. That's pretty much the only reason I go to Whole Foods - for the meat and prepared foods. MOMs is sufficient for produce, eggs, orange juice, milk, etc.
Danny January 30, 2012 at 08:17 PM
the Safeway spokesman said (as quoted in the Gazette and elsehwere) that Safeway is looking to reopen in Hyattsville (despite closing on Hamilton St. and being unable to execute its former UTC lease). i'd be interested to know what sites are being looked at, and if any of those sites are actually in CP. more generally, although it would be quite nice to have a supermarket within walking distance of UMD, the ability to walk to a grocery store in a suburban area is of less importance than i think some people are claiming. suburban (and some urban) supermarkets absolutely have to provide ample, convenient parking (almost always FREE parking), because it's very limiting to buy only what one can take home on foot or bike (even with a "granny cart"). the giant in downtown SS is almost right on top of the metro station, but it provides ample surface parking, as does the SS whole foods. all 3 of the harris teeters in DC have ample free garage parking, too. same with trader joe's in the west end of DC, pentagon city and crystal city HT, mt vernon square safeway, RI ave NE giant, rosslyn safeway, downtown bethesda giant, etc. no matter where a new CP supermarket is located, it's going to serve some walkers but many more drivers. even if i lived just 2 blocks away from a new harris teeter, i'd still drive if i were buying more than one meal's worth of groceries -- a jug of milk, a case of soda, a carton of OJ... all that heavy stuff adds up fast.
Chris Tennant January 30, 2012 at 10:03 PM
These are the EXACT same points that I have been making all along! I don't care whether beer and wine is sold at whatever store ends up there. There's plenty of that available in College Park already. I just want a REAL grocery story within WALKING distance of Old Town, and Riverdale Park is NOT within walking distance! And neither is Shoppers, which no one voted for in the poll anyway. Apropos of the poll, I see that the majority of those who have taken the poll thus far are definitely in favor of Trader Joe's, a wonderful grocery store that can meet all of our needs and which is demogragphically and geographically (i.e., clientele and sizewise) to meet the needs of our community. I really don't understand why the owners of the property in question claim that TJ's is not interested in the proposition. It's a perfect match for them and they would make money hand-over-fist, both off the student population and local residents. I know that I, for one, would probably be beating a path to TJ's at least three times a week, even if I didn't need to. As for Whole Paycheck, as you so aptly describe it, whenever I go to Silver Spring I always stop in there to check out what they have but almost always leave empty-handed or with empty pockets. I always feel like a little kid in a candy store when I go there because I can only look at all the goodies but not buy more than a few pieces of "penny candy" as it were.
Nick January 31, 2012 at 04:18 AM
I was hoping the absurdity of my question would highlight the stupidity of the euphemism. It appears, however, that this vein runs deep.
Nick January 31, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Here's one more whopper: when it is in Riverdale Park it will overwhelm the suburbs with traffic and over-development but when it is in College Park it will serve a growing urban-residential area. Boy, it is getting difficult to keep these excuses straight. The only real difference I see is that Riverdale Park's tax base serves a large minority population and College Park's a large white population. If this were down south we'd have a word for these kind of arguments... If we let College Park decide development for the rest of us we'd be left with blighted, abandoned store fronts just waiting for the next big thing. I suppose that's why they are no longer being include in the discussions. Reaping and sowing.
Danny January 31, 2012 at 12:08 PM
yes, but a supermarket -- even a small one like trader joe's -- needs more than just those customers who buy a couple bags of groceries at a time. the only exception would be in very densely populated urban areas where the distance to the store is short for many people and where providing parking would be prohibitively expensive, but even urban grocery stores like the ones i mentioned provide ample parking for their car-based customers. downtown CP doesn't have nearly enough density to support a grocery store without convenient free parking. also, the CP shopping center is located several looooong suburban blocks from some of the new apartment buildings (varsity, univ view, enclave). that's a long distance to walk with even just a couple of bags of groceries. all this is to say that a new downtown grocery store would be great, but i think it will require plenty of parking.
Danny January 31, 2012 at 12:11 PM
i find that some of the staple foods at whole foods are lower priced and of higher quality than the closest equivalent at giant and safeway. (i am thinking of the store brand of bread, OJ, butter, yogurt, non-organic produce, etc.) of course if you want fancy prepared foods, organic meats and produce, and all-natural pharmaceuticals, you pay the whole foods premium, but WF's selection and quality apparently makes it worth it for those customers.
Adelphi Sky January 31, 2012 at 03:11 PM
You know what would be a great place for a Trader Joes? The Domain at College Park at the corner of Campus Drive and Mowatt Lane. You could carve out about 30 commuter spaces in the commuter lot across Campus Dr. for 30 minute shopping. Then put a full-service Harris Teeter on Rt. 1. Boom! Done.
Chris Tennant January 31, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I don't think that would work. However, there is an excellent empty site on US 1 where the old Koon's Ford place was formerly located. The lot is VERY large. There is not only enough room for a standard-sized Trader Joe's but plenty of room for parking as well. Moreover, it is within close walking distance of downtown and right across the street from what could prove to be a very promising clientele that wouldn't need to use a car, thus leaving room for others to park on the premises. Every time I go past that large vacant lot, I bemoan the fact that such a promising site is still sitting there empty when it would prove an ideal site for a real grocery store.
Danny January 31, 2012 at 03:44 PM
@Chris -- there actually is a proposal for development on the old koons site north of mcdonald's. it's for a hotel with retail space on the ground floor. see more at: http://www.jbgr.com/images/inner/properties/CollegeParkCenter.pdf it looks like one of the retail segments could be large enough for a trader joe's, and there seems to be lots of parking planned.
Adelphi Sky January 31, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Why wouldn't it work? It would be within 1/4 mile of the proposed West Campus Purple Line station. That's a 5 minute walk. Everyone keeps bemoaning the fact that the grocery stores currently proposed on RT. 1 are more than a mile away from transit. Even with the Purple Line, the old Ford lot and the Cafritz property would still be at least 3/4 - 1 mile away from the nearest Purple Line station. Now I'm not saying any new store should be in West Campus. I'm just saying Trader Joes is small enough to serve that community which includes University Hills and east Adelphi including the new Domain apartments. I'm saying Harris Teeter would be great for the Rt. 1 side. I still think Trader Joes is too small for downtown College Park.
Adelphi Sky January 31, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Actually, there will be a garage behind the Domain building. Quite awesome. http://www.jbgr.com/images/inner/properties/DomainatCollegePark.pdf
Danny January 31, 2012 at 04:29 PM
@Adelphi -- 10k sqft is on the small side for a trader joe's. they're usually closer to 15k. also, 37 parking spaces is likely not sufficient for a TJ's; it seems the domain retail space is designed for local community uses (dry cleaners, coffee shop, ice-cream shop, carry-out pizza, etc.), not destination retail.
Chris Tennant January 31, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I just went to the link Danny referred to regarding the old Koon's Ford site that is targeted for the construction of a hotel and he's right! One of the retail areas does appear to be large enough for a Trader Joe's, and apparently there will be ample parking for the same. Surely, TJ's could be persuaded to open a branch there. Even if they go ahead with a Harris Teeter at the other end of Old Town, there shouldn't be a problem with having two real grocers in the area. After all, we have umpteen burger and pizza joints within the downtown area, so why not two grocers, especially as most of us do not consider MOM'S or Shoppers really a part of the College Park area, given that they sit on the Northern boundary of CP and are not easily accessible by many people within College Park. In fact, most of Shopper's clientele comes from the Beltsville area.
Adelphi Sky January 31, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I agree. An excellent spot for a trader Joes. As we talk about grocers in College Park, has there been any thought to East Campus? has everyone given up on that development? there was supposed to be a grocery store there too. As the Turtle of the development group, I have a feeling it may loose out as the grocery store market may be saturated by the time it is completed. Which is certainly not a bad thing. College Park certainly has some decisions to make regarding getting the right mix of grocers.
Shannon Hoffman February 03, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Adelphi Sky -- They're actually working to finalize a date to break ground for the first phase of East Campus. http://collegepark.patch.com/articles/university-waits-to-learn-when-ground-can-be-broken-for-east-campus The first phase will probably include a hotel and conference center, as well as graduate housing, retail and an entertainment venue, but the specific types of retail aren't specified, yet.

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