Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Long the last bastion of industrial warehouses (not to mention a great Italian deli) and the wholesalers who supply DC with meat and produce, the Florida Avenue Market (or Capitol City Market), located to the northwest of Gallaudet University between New York and Florida Avenues NE, now finds itself at a gentrification crossroads, as it is at the center of a battle over plans to turn this 24-acre industrial area into a new residential "town center" near the New York Avenue metro station. Round one was won by the developer on Tuesday, when the DC Council gave preliminary approval to Sang Oh Choi (who owns most of this land) for his $1.2 billion "New Town at Capital City Market" project that would put condominiums, retail shops, a hotel, offices, a YMCA, and a theater/ice rink in this location. A minimum of 20% of the planned 1,450 residential units would be made affordable and available to DC employees such as teachers and fire/police officers. In addition, Choi plans to build warehouses with three levels of parking for the wholesalers now operating in the market. Merchants are understandably nervous about these plans, and there was strong opposition to this proposal on the DC Council. However, the measure was approved after being attached as an amendment to another bill on workforce housing by supportive council members.