Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Capital City Market to Get Pop-Up Restaurants?

Washington DC real estate developers eye market to build apartments, ThinkFoodGroup and JBG
For several years now, DC's Capital City/Florida Avenue Market area has had its generous, but fully stocked, 27 acres ogled by big developers and investors - MRP Realty, Sang Oh Development, J Street, Edens & Avant, to name a few - without any action post-PUD approval or, in one case, even District support.

Yet a new role to be assumed by Richard Brandenburg, well-known D.C.-area foodie and formerly of the ThinkFoodGroup, signals that some real development could be happening in the market area, and soon. Brandenburg has been hired by Edens & Avant, a large national property developer and owner, as its director of culinary strategy - a newly created position. As reported by the Washington Post - Brandenburg's job will center on restaurants and the Capital City Market. Sources familiar with the project now say Brandenburg is planning pop-up restaurants as a short term way to enliven the space.

Eventually, Brandenburg sees the potentially valuable commercial land as a "wholesale-retail center with multiple restaurants, a culinary school, even a USDA hub." But Edens & Avant's long-term goals for its property - based on Brandenburg's ambitions - might be a while in the making.

Edens & Avant controls approximately 140,000 square feet (3.2 acres) of land on the eastern edge of the market along 6th Street, NE, through a joint venture with J Street Development. The property slated for new culinary inputs borders Gallaudet and co-mingles 3.8 acres owned by the university. With low overhead and no real commitment, pop-up restaurants have been touted as a venue offering restaurateurs the freedom to experiment with concepts, without a large up front financial commitment. It's also a way to get money coming in quickly, as an intrepid chef, or property owner, and is a growing trend in big cities nationwide.

There have been many plans for redevelopment of the market over the past decade, including a small area plan by the Office of Planning in 2009, but the market has been a real estate quagmire: 120 lots, with 108 owned by 68 different entities, many still operational. No word yet on whether Edens & Avant and J Street are looking to roll up their shirt sleeves and try to acquire more market property.

Edens & Avant is "temporarily holding off on discussing [Brandenburg's] full position" until he is officially on board, says a press release, along with its vision for its market property, though a media contact noted that Brandenburg will have a broad role that will impact the entire Edens & Avante portfolio of 125 properties along the East Coast.

The Capital City/Florida Avenue Market is the current incarnation of the Union Terminal Market, opened in 1928 to replace D.C.'s Center Market, first opened in 1802, which was razed to make way for the National Archives.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


1600Residents on Aug 3, 2011, 10:11:00 AM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I would love to see this place turned into a pedestrian-friendly culinary destination. I know some people thought it already was, but I think there was room for improvement. I would love a place where I could suggest taking my family for an afternoon and enjoy strolling around sampling different treats, lingering at outdoor tables and picking up a few special things to take home. Maybe a few seasonal vendors outside selling summer produce/flowers or winter market goodies. It would be awesome.

IMGoph on Aug 3, 2011, 11:38:00 AM said...

Kelly: Gotta say, if I was someone who was completely unfamiliar with the market, and I read this line that you included...

Sources familiar with the project now say Brandenburg is planning pop-up restaurants as a short term way to enliven the space.

...and I saw the pictures at the bottom of the story that include no people whatsoever, I'd think that this was indeed a desolate, urban wasteland.

But, as you know, it's not. If you try to walk around the area on a Saturday morning, you'll run into a mess of people, crowds of neighbors and people from further afield that come to do weekly shopping for home and restaurants.

I have an angle here, because, as a neighbor, I'm concerned about how this area could be redeveloped (and I think the pop-up restaurant idea is neat), but I can't help but feeling that the picture this article paints, literally and figuratively, is lacking.

Unknown on Aug 3, 2011, 12:01:00 PM said...

What about the development that was supposed to happen right at NY Ave and FLA Ave (across the Metro tracks from this)?

What about the site that is part of the yellow triangle on the left of the top diagram that has had a sign, for the last 5 years I've been driving by it, reading (somewhat condescendingly) "Pretty soon, you won't recognize this place. Promise"?

(leaves me wondering how they define "pretty soon")

Why is this project about to happen while those remain stalled?

Anonymous said...

IMGoph, I included a (very helpful) link for the wealth that can be found at the market now, hidden in the words "but fully stocked."

I will try to take some photos this weekend (included are ones from this morning).

Nolan, I'll see what I can find.

Anonymous said...

Why would taking pictures on Saturday morning be any more accurate than pictures taken at, say, noon on Tuesday, or 8 PM on Friday? I've been to the Market when it is bustling (on Saturday), but i've also been there during the week when it is virtually a ghost town. And there's NO action going on after-hours to speak of. Some restaurants there that attract people at hours other than Saturday morning/afternoon would indeed help enliven the space.

le poo des poos! said...

why not take pictures even earlier in the morning, or at night so we can see the hookers too? i live a few blooks away, and believe me, you'd better bring two or three digital camera memory cards... and a bullet proof vest, just in case you run into the same guy that dented my car with his fists on a saturday afternoon at the flea market...

Joe M. said...

I'd much rather see small-scale parcel-by-parcel redevelopment there than a huge mega-scale approach. There are many functioning businesses there that add a lot to the city and few of them would survive a major redevelopment scheme.
I too think the choice of photos in the article is rather odd -- lots of photos of bare concrete instead of the many active businesses -- suggesting the writer's slant is toward's large-scale clearance and "urban renewal."

Anonymous said...

This area makes me think of the meatpacking district in NYC if its done right.

Anonymous said...

I couldnt agree more that this area would be amazing as a NY version of the meat packing district. Ive always thought it could be better than H St NE and could be full of night life if done right!

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