At long last, Trader Joe's is coming to Manhattan in a Greenwich Village area that has become a specialty food store mecca. Robert K. Futterman & Associates LLC has completed a 15,000-square-foot lease for Trader Joe's at 140 E. 14th Street, in New York University's Palladium dormitory complex, near Union Square. That space has been empty for years. More than 1,000 students live in the dorm, all potential customers. Trader Joe's is slated to open for business in November.

The Union Square area, which also boasts an outdoor farmers' market, has an ideal demographic. "It's densely populated with great restaurants, which means people there care about food," said Michael Ordan, CEO of the new Balducci's chain when its 14th Street store was unveiled.

Perhaps that's why Whole Foods recently opened its third Manhattan location--a three-story, 50,000 square feet giant--a few blocks away at 4 Union Square. And Balducci's, the formerly family-owned food store acquired by Sutton Place Gourmet, is opening a 21,000-square-foot supermarket west on 14th Street in the historic New York Savings Bank building that has more recently been the home of Central Carpet. The store is expected to open in the fall.

Balducci's this week announced plans for another urban store, a 21,000-square-foot supermarket-this one in the Jefferson at Penn Quarter in Washington, D.C.-a mixed-use project between D and E streets built by Dallas-based development company JPI. This is the first large-scale specialty food market to open in the Penn Quarter, an area that has been transformed in recent years by the MCI Center and the return of thousands of new residences. The site, also near the Gallery Place Metro stop, is set to open by early spring next year.

Also located on 14th Street is locally grown Garden of Eden gourmet food shops.

While New York has always been a shopper's delight, it's only recently been embraced by gourmet food chains.

--Beth Karlin