Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fairgrounds at Nationals Stadium


With Washington Nationals opening day one month away, and Forest City's Yards project rounding the corner in delivering a retail pavilion to the Anacostia waterfront, one local team is getting ready to deliver the first large, integrated shopping district adjacent to the ballpark area. A local arts group is working to deliver a pop-up retail pavilion on the block just north of the ballpark, on a now-vacant site owned by Akridge along the footpath between the Metro station and ballpark entrance.
Underway is a self-contained, open-air retail and entertainment destination that will animate the baseball stadium's gateway with an imaginative mix of food, entertainment and shopping. Organizers will test a concept that has won accolades in New York and London - turning refurbished shipping containers into instant designer storefronts, creating an open marketplace that is part foodie festival and farmer's market, part entertainment venue and beer garden, and part shopping district. Playing off the success of London's BOXPARK Shoreditch and Brooklyn's DeKalb Market, the project will utilize the ultimate green idea - recycling - by turning salvaged shipping containers into architecturally imaginative shops.


Promoters are signing up regional retailers for the seasonal market that will coincide with baseball season, and plan to open with a "preview party" on March 30th. Vendors are expected to be attracted to the instant retail site with some of the city's heaviest, if sporadic, foot traffic, while visitors to the ballpark - and the area's increasing residential population - get a timely market in place of a vacant lot that will last until the site is developed.

Brooklyn's DeKalb Market (pictured above, courtesy Inhabitat) opened last year to much acclaim from the local community and has achieved cult status as a regional urban infill amenity. Boxcars-as-architecture has premiered in other cities, but the Half Street Fairgrounds is the first U.S. version as a pop-up shopping destination. The site is being created by Akridge, Bo Blair of Georgetown Events, which operated The Bullpen on the site, and Mike Berman of Diverse Markets Management, which operates the Flea Market at Eastern Market and the Downtown Holiday Market at Penn Quarter, and designed by Christy Schlesinger of Schlesinger Architects. The team expects to program some of the site full-time, with special events and heightened programming on game days. "We really appreciate being invited by Fairgrounds entrepreneur Bo Blair to participate in this exciting venture," Berman said, calling it an opportunity for "incubating creative businesses for this new neighborhood and for the city."
Capitol Riverfront BID Director Michael Stevens noted that the neighborhood will have "9 to 10 restaurants open in the next 11 months," calling the chance for immediate retail a "cool, edgy concept" that will "brand the neighborhood, and give ballpark patrons another option." The BID will partner with the Fairgrounds to provide a Wednesday noon-time concert series beginning in May. Retail leasing is being handled by DCRE Real Estate.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think this is a great idea, and could be a lot of fun. Why then, is there a little voice at the back of my head asking,
"Will the District really allow this? Will they really allow food places to pop up so casually, when they can take months to permit a regular one? And years to create an atmosphere hospitable to food trucks? Can we really have something so progressive here?"
Shut up cynical little voice!

Helder Gil on Mar 14, 2012, 9:48:00 AM said...

@Anonymous - The little voice in the back of your head can rest assured: This will really happen.

The project's architects and designers have been meeting with our permits and inspections staff for the past month discussing the building plans and safety requirements.

We are as excited as they are about bringing this project to the District and hope it will serve as a model for how to do more of these kinds of temporary urbanism.

Thanks,
Helder Gil
DCRA
@dcra

Anonymous said...

Ditch the orange. Looks tacky. The Orioles play in Baltimore.

Payton on Mar 15, 2012, 12:20:00 AM said...

Great to see more coverage of this! I'll be watching closely to see how it does over the first season and whether or not it brings a retail critical mass to a neighborhood that has almost none (for now).

(Also great to see such pro-active participation from DCRA! Spaces like this foster the sort of innovation and entrepreneurship that make great city economies tick, and I'm glad to see our city welcome that.)

DeKalb Market has worked well, and might have worked even if Fulton Mall wasn't next door (they cater to very different demographics), but it's also much easier to access than Half Street.

Erin said...

Ditch the orange?? Really, they are taking a site and doing something unique and innovative that will provide a great service to the neighborhood, and your comment is 'ditch the orange"? Thanks so much for your thoughtful commentary, the world is a better place for it.

Anonymous said...

The only problem with this scheme is that it will almost certainly be so fun & urban that we'll be sad to see it torn down for more standard-issue (if nicely done) urban retail-in-street-level-of-large-bulding.

Kudos to all involved, especially architect Schlesinger!

Caroline Armijo on Mar 15, 2012, 3:46:00 PM said...

This is an amazing idea! I am so excited. We love going to the "ball game" with our two year old. She knows at least six presidents thanks to the Nats!

I hope that the developers include some innovative family friendly spaces that allow kids a place to play. There are are easy and simple low cost ways to provide this for all of the children visiting the ball park. This would allow parents to relax a little before the game, as well.

Anonymous said...

the Containers were provided by ALLIED TRAILERS. Allied prepped, cut, painted, and delivered these for a low cost, and has been doing so since 1952. Check out alliedtrailers.com

richard susskindseo on Nov 4, 2014, 5:36:00 AM said...

awesome.its innovative idea.i am so excited.thanks for sharing this post.
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