The Wegmans supermarket is still but a plan on paper. So what will it be like when the chain opens its first store in our corner of the District?
Last week, Roadside Development shared renderings and site plans for what’s currently the Fannie Mae headquarters building on Wisconsin Avenue with the Washington Business Journal. According to the plans, the Wegmans store is to anchor a new “town square” complex with seven new buildings behind 3900 Wisconsin.
We already knew from the plans announced in May that the store itself would be placed underneath the Fannie Mae building and would not visible from Wisconsin. The store would be 80,000 feet, which is large by DC standards (twice that of the Whole Foods at Logan Circle on P Street).
A grand opening is still five years out, so when Forest Hills Connection asked, the company was not ready to release a design. Perhaps it will be similar to that of its 75,000 square foot store in Westwood, Massachusetts. Here is that store’s layout.
Wegmans has an extremely loyal following, and Roadside’s plans have drawn some concerns from neighbors about the project. The Northwest Current’s May 31st staff editorial says “that’s a valid fear,” but sees traffic backups and congestion as an unlikely prospect.
“The site,” the Current states, “is already home to thousands of office workers who come and go during rush hour, whereas Wegmans’ customers would be more dispersed throughout the day.”
Before the May announcement, I had never been to a Wegmans. The closest store to our neighborhood is about a 45-minute drive away, and as my friends and colleagues can attest, I do not like to get into a car to go anywhere. But none of what I had read in the media talked about what you get at a Wegmans, so my curiosity got the better of me.
I chose to visit the Columbia, Maryland store. It has a pharmacy, bakery, floral shop, pizza, sub shop, burger bar, Asian food bar, market café, sushi, kosher deli and a gluten-free food area.
The entrance was nothing special.
But when I turned into the main store, the fresh produce section quickly changed my tune. I had never seen so much organic produce in one place.
This section did draw you into the store to explore. One stand of organic spinach displayed the photo and name of the family of farmers that supplied the spinach. Okay, I was impressed.
Then there was the cave-ripened cheese section (In Wegmans’ own “caves,” no less). I don’t quite know the difference between aged and cave-ripened but I bought some and found them quite good.
The store had a huge selection of quick meal options, covering many international flavors and options for vegetarians and those with food allergies. Quite a crowd had assembled for lunch.
Some areas of the store had a Costco feel, with items available in bulk. In other areas, such as housewares, the displays were attractive and pulled you in for a look. Whole Foods and the new Giant on Wisconsin will have to up their game when Wegmans opens its doors.