Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Happy Hour on 12/12/13!

We hope this post finds you well this holiday season!  While we've been quiet lately on the media front, we’ve been busy establishing our non-profit status, working on advocacy elements like the video, and most importantly, meeting with important stakeholders like GSA, Ward 6 officials, fellow local advocacy campaigns, and local business leaders.


Just today we learned that Ward 6 Council-member Tommy Wells sent a letter to Mayor Gray, asking him to engage in a District-led proposal for GSA based on our concept.

We’d also like to recognize that it’s been a whole year since we’ve started this initiative as a simple idea, to a full-fledged advocacy effort!  

To celebrate, we’re throwing a Happy Hour at Justin’s CafĂ© this Thursday, December 12th from 6-11pm.  


Justin will be generously donating a portion of draft beer proceeds to our effort, and will also be offering 50 cent wings starting at 8:30.  If you can make it, please come out and support us so that we can afford to file our non-profit application and raise some money for advocacy expenditures.


Tell your friends; it will be a fun time for a good cause!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Updates & Progress

Half Street Market Supporters,

Our Thoughts are with our Navy Neighbors...

First and foremost, the Half Street Market Team wants to extend our thoughts and prayers to all those effected by last Monday’s tragedy at Navy Yard. We are a tight-knit community, and because of this, we are fortunate to be able to lean on our friends and neighbors as we move forward.

 

 

Request Sent to GSA

Secondly, we wanted to let you know that our Councilmember Tommy Wells has written a letter to GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini, urging that the GSA engage with him and the community as they move forward in their decision making process on the reuse of the 49 L Street SE warehouse. He states that he encourages“GSA to work with local community members who have developed and championed the Half Street Market initiative.”

We are very thankful for Tommy and his office's support of both our concept, and for his broader support of a property use that benefits both our local community and The District of Columbia.  We have crafted our own letter to GSA requesting community coordination, and we will update you when we receive a response!

 
 

Video & T-Shirt Progress

Also, we thought we'd update you on our video & t-shirt progress (yes, we're still working on those!).  We've been hard at work interviewing local residents and public officials to put together a great piece for advocacy efforts.  We also have a t-shirt design and are in the process of finding the best way to order and distribute them (t-shirts are a surprisingly high up-front cost!).  We'll let you know the minute we have both ready - we're very eager to get them out in public!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Farm to Street Party Photos

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Farm to Street Party a few weeks ago!  We had a fun time and met a lot of great people throughout the afternoon.  Here are a few photos we got of the action:


























We're continuing our work on advocacy and fundraising opportunities including our fundraising video and t-shirts.  We'll update you when we are ready to have them ordered and made!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Farm-to-Street Party TODAY!!!

Half Street Market Supporters - we have an event we are excited to be attending!  We are fortunate to be having a booth Think Local First DC's Farm-to-Street Party TODAY Saturday, July 27th at Union Market in NE DC.  From Think First Local DC's site:

Come and enjoy great food from our community, for our community, and by our community as Eat Local Week 2013 culminates in this fantastic food festival featuring over 125 vendors who are making local food happen; the ultimate block party celebrating the crops, commerce, and community members that feed our city. Vendors include District restaurants dishing up locally-sourced specials, food and beverage producers featuring their Made-in-DC goods, chef-demos, speakers, and more. Come hungry, come thirsty, and be sure to empty out your pantry in anticipation! $5 entry fee.


This will be a great opportunity for us to network with growers, vendors, restaurateurs, organizations, and local citizens.  Come out and see us, as well as all the other participants if you have time today!  We look forward to seeing you, you can get tickets and more information at the party's official website.

Festivities are from 1:00 to 6:00 pm.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Status Update and T-shirt Design

It's been some time since the congressional hearing, so we thought we'd fill you in on what we've been doing. The Half Street Market concept has made incredible strides, thanks largely to our volunteers as well as the incredible amount of public support it has received. As the idea becomes more and more real and we begin to search out grants and support, feasibility studies and operational plans will have to be developed to prove its potential.

In anticipation of performing these studies, we are in the process of developing a Kickstarter Video to raise money for these initial studies.  Kickstarter is an online forum where anyone can pledge support for a creative idea or product in the form of an online donation to that cause.  If the pledge goal we set is achieved, we get to collect the money raised.

As a potential reward to pledges, we are also designing a T-shirt!  But we don't want to hog all the fun of creating a cool design... if you have a great idea for a Half Street Market t-shirt, please send it in!  Feel free to use our logo or our graphics found on this site to use in your design.  Once we have several entries, we'll post the designs for everyone to vote on.

Entries can be sent to our mail account, halfstreetmarket@gmail.com.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Post-Hearing Summary

Before the Hearing
We thought we’d take the chance to provide a brief summary of the Congressional hearing’s discussion points, and how they impact our the Half Street Market initiative.  Residents joined the Half Street Market team at the hearing to represent our concept(with display boards and support stickers!) and Chairman John Mica even took notice during the meeting stating “It looks like we have a number of local citizens.”  Thanks to all who attended the hearing to represent our neighborhood and show support!



Our Boards
Media coverage of the hearing has been mixed; mainly focusing on GSA’s need to benefit monetarily from the disposal of the property. We have always acknowledged that whatever the final solution is, it must be a win-win-win for public and private stakeholders at the Federal, District, and local levels. We were encouraged that, during the hearing, the Subcommittee overwhelming urged GSA to 1) move quickly to dispose of and reactivate the property and 2) engage the community through this process to ensure that the future serves local residents.

On multiple occasions, members spoke about the need to have the 49 L Street warehouse positively impact the surrounding community, and Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells spoke directly in favor of the Half Street Market concept in his testimony.  The quotes below help to provide further context, and you can watch the hearing in full here


Chairman Mica (R-FL-07):

“I think that the local community should be given a preference.” – in reference to the future of the Federal property

Ranking Member Connolly (D-VA-11): 

“there are options GSA can utilize such as conveyance to non-federal entities, which would develop this non-utilized site to benefit the broader community… consultation with the DC city government is a very important part of this process too, and for a building such as this to ensure that whatever we do in the [disposal] of this property is consistent with their goals and what they want to achieve… I strongly suggest GSA consider this type of transfer…”

“…so long as we work with local governments to make sure we’re not doing harm and that we’re working with their priorities, their plans and their vision for the community.”

“[disposal] of such properties can be a win-win for local taxpayers and for the Federal government.”

Photo courtesy Oversight
Committee on Government Operations
“When does however the concern or the vision of the local government come to play because they’re not always in sync with the Federal desire to get fair market value… but a broader vision the local government may have because we’re in the midst of their community – don’t we need to try to make sure the two are compatible?


“…also recognize that we are in the midst of a community and we don’t stand alone and we have responsibility to that community to try to make sure that their goals are consistent with our goals because the [disposal] of a property can be both a boon to a local community and can be extremely disruptive if it is in-fact outright inconsistent with the needs and goals and visions of the local community.  So it seems to me we have a heavy responsibility to take that very seriously, not incidentally, not a box to be checked off, but integral to the process.”

Congresswoman Norton (D-DC):

“Here we have an enterprising community that seeing a large, vacant property within its midst surrounded by booming development on all corners develops its own proposal for the property.”

“Thank goodness I have constituents who on their own discover…” – in reference to the fact that no notice of excess was sent to federal agencies

            Councilmember Wells (Ward 6, DC):

“I strongly support the community vision captured in the Half Street Market plan.”

This initiative warrants support – whether as proposed or adapted to market conditions that preserve the central elements of the community’s vision – and holds the possibility to transform the vacant building into an iconic project and important community amenity in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.

Mr. Michael Gelber (GSA Deputy Commissioner)

“As we go through this process we are sure to keep the community involved as well as all other interested parties.”

“We try to work with local communities to ensure that whatever plan GSA has is as you say compatible with the local community’s desires.”

“We would work with local community on this property before proceeding for final [disposal].”

Interior Rendering of Proposed Main hall

Community Benefit Can Trump Financial Return:
 
Ranking Member Connolly:  “Is there a point at which we decide the plan of the local government trumps our desire to reap a fair market value for the property?” 
GSA Deputy Commissioner Gelber:  “Yes, that varies from project to project but there are points of time where the desire of the local community and local representative outweigh the over-arching need of the federal government.” 

Community Vision Preference Over Other Options:
 
Congresswoman Norton:  “Can you say that it is unlikely that this property will be available to the community because the law requires that you get the highest value and you are in the process of negotiating is it with a specific entity, are you in search of a specific entity, are you almost certain or near certain that this exchange can occur?  How deeply into that strategy are you, how successful is it likely to be? 
GSA Deputy Commissioner Gelber:  “We are beginning that strategy, and believe it will be successful, so our preferred alternative is to pursue that course of action.”

A Transfer to or Purchase by the District:
 
Chairman Mica:  “Do you think that the District, Mr. Wells, would be interested in some type of remuneration for the property?” 
Councilmember Wells:   “Absolutely.  This is a derelict property that’s a non-contributing asset to the community.  As you can see, this is a very vibrant economic neighborhood and I believe that the district could reap quite a bit from an investment of 19 million. 
Chairman Mica:  “I wanted it to be known that for the record that we have a willing buyer and a public entity that is interested.”

Though the focus of this meeting was largely to discuss the disposal of vacant and underutilized Federal properties in general, the Half Street Market team feels this hearing signals a positive step forward in our effort to transform and reactivate the 49 L Street warehouse for the community.

Again, thank you all for your continued support! Stay up-to-date with the Half Street Market initiative by “liking” the Facebook page and following us on Twitter @HalfStMarket. Questions? E-mail HalfStreetMarket@gmail.com

If you have not done so already, join the 380 others who have signed the Half Street Market petition, and share it with your neighbors and friends!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Action Alert!

We have some breaking news regarding the process of the Half Street Market concept:  The House Subcommittee on Government Operations has scheduled a hearing address the future of 49 L Street SE (Half Street Market's site) next Thursday, April 25th at 9:30am.  The hearing will be held within the warehouse itself and will be headed by Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA 49)  and Rep. John Mica, (R-FL 07).

The hearing is being called to discuss "the costs to the taxpayer of underperforming or vacant Federal assets and, in particular, the status of the vacant GSA Warehouse located on L Street in southeast Washington, D.C."  The committee has invited representatives from the GSA, GAO, and Ward 6 Council to testify on possible uses of the warehouse.  Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6) and Ed Kaminski (ANC 6D02) have been invited to testify.

Yesterday, Tommy Wells' office signaled that he would testify in support of the Half Street Market initiative during the hearing.  I don't have to tell you of how HUGE an opportunity this is for our concept to shine, as it brings our idea into the direct attention of federal stakeholders and gives an opportunity for important decision makers to evaluate our idea.  This has all happen very fast, and we will be hard at work in our efforts to gain even more support from residents and stakeholders over the coming week.

There are actions that HSM Supporters can take to show your support at this critical moment:
  1. Attend the hearing if possible.  It is open to the public and even though public comments will not be taken, a large crowd will surely send a message of support.  Details:  9:30am on Thursday April 25th at 49 L Street SE (proposed Half Street Market site).
  2. Sign our Change.org online petition:  http://www.change.org/petitions/all-support-the-half-street-market-initiative.  This petition will help get us a large list of names in support of the concept.  To help spread the petition further, please tag it on Facebook or share it on Twitter.
  3. Follow our twitter account, @halfstmarket, from which we will be tweeting live during the hearing.  We will also update our blog, www.halfstreetmarket.blogspot.com.
This is a big moment for HSM!  Thank you for your continued support and stay up to date to find out what's happening and what you can do to help.