Is Half Street Market Possible? Thursday Hearing Offers Faint Hope

by Shilpi Paul

Is Half Street Market Possible? Thursday Hearing Offers Faint Hope: Figure 1
A rendering of Half Street Market.

How likely is the community-generated plan to create a market in the vacant warehouse at 49 L Street SE? It’s possible, but will most likely require DC to dole out some money.

On Thursday morning, the House Subcommittee on Government Operations held a hearing at the government-owned property to discuss the state of federal-owned vacant buildings, with a special focus on the L Street SE property (map).

As we’ve reported, community members are agitating to take over the site and put in Half Street Market, a Union Market-type facility, albeit with more training and educational elements to create “culinary incubators.”

However, the building is owned by the GSA, who is first trying to determine if a federal agency may need the site (GSA’s Michael Gelber said that no federal agencies seem interested in the building that has been vacant since 2009). If not, they will explore the idea of selling it.

A sizable contingent (for a Thursday morning) came out to the meeting in support of the Half Street concept, and Councilmember Tommy Wells and ANC 6D Commissioner Ed Kaminski testified in support of the project. Kaminski brought up a potential revenue stream that could help fund the market and culinary incubators on the ground floor: a boutique hotel on the upper floors could send a stream of cash to the GSA. Generally, Kaminski felt that the air rights over the warehouse could be utilized in a profitable manner.

The representatives seemed supportive of the local officials, and were open to the prospect of putting in motion a process that would lead to selling the building to the city. However, the question remains: can DC afford it? The building is valued at $19 million.

Rep. Mica asked Councilmember Wells if he thought it was possible that the city would be interested in buying the site at that cost. “Absolutely,” said Wells. “I believe the District could reap quite a bit from an investment of $19 million.” Michael Gelber also mentioned the possibility of working out some kind of exchange with the city for the site.

So, while the future of the building and the proposed concept remain very much up in the air, the folks behind Half Street Market are left with perhaps a bit more hope than they had yesterday.

See other articles related to: half street market

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/is_half_street_market_possible_todays_hearing_offers_faint_hope/6983


  1. Anonymous said at 9:51 pm on Thursday April 25, 2013:
    Today was a win for the residents and businesses located in Navy Yard. Bringing a congressional field hearing to the warehouse shed light on the need to reactivate the property as soon as possible. Forcing GSA to talk about options for doing so is the first step. There was significant bipartisan support (and even support from the GSA) to involve and consider the community when determining the building's future use. That's another win for the neighborhood residents. Any resident-led effort that draws attention to blight in their community should be applauded. This is a true example of engaging in the civic process, and Navy Yard residents as a whole are going to be better off due to this group’s efforts!
  1. jeffrey gordon said at 3:16 am on Friday April 26, 2013:
    great progress everybody! Things are in play, citizens and reps local and federal engaged, lets press forward and think big here. Money is never going to be cheaper to borrow and the "Front" is blasting off! Lets go for it while we have the momentum!

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