The Concept


Half Street Market is a re-use concept for an existing Federal warehouse in southeast Washington D.C. to provide the neighborhood and city with a public venue for a food market, restaurant, and flexible community space. The concept is being developed and advocated for by local citizens who want to see a public amenity brought to the Half Street area of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood.
The effort’s keystone initiative is to provide D.C. residents a living classroom for workforce development training and education in the hospitality and culinary arts. Operating as a public market and restaurant, Half Street Market will host community education programming and a provide access to a culinary incubator and small business formation classes and resources for local entrepreneurs.

Mission Statement:

Through its workforce development program and small business food incubator, Half Street Market provides a full-immersion experiential education setting that prepares residents to participate in and lead the District’s hospitality and culinary economy. As a community space, Half Street Market serves to link D.C. residents to local food entrepreneurs and opportunities to expand their own culinary knowledge through education and activities that promote community health and connectivity.

Through providing educational and economic opportunities to low-income citizens, start-up artisans and emerging culinary professionals, the advocates seek to have the District or a non-profit organization acquire the federal property through conveyance or other means at 100% discount of market value.


Public Market and Restaurant:
Markets are a growing national trend and a way of life, as they promote public health and support local small

Milwaukee Public Market

businesses. Half Street Market’s full-service restaurant and vendor space will offer prepared foods and produce, and provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs utilizing the culinary incubator to sell their product. Participants in the workforce development program will gain job experience and “soft skills” by working alongside vendors and training in the restaurant.

Community Flex Space:

Torvehallerne, Copenhagen
The market has the potential to be a “24-hour” building, as its flexible design will allow for public events and educational programming. The types of community events could include: 
  • Cooking classes for adults and children
  • Healthy eating seminars and lectures
  • Tastings and culinary education presentations
  • Urban gardening demonstrations
Why a Public Facility?
  • This building is owned by the Federal Government (GSA) and is currently unused with no current plans
  • Located in the center of an economically growing area
  • No ‘public’ amenities currently planned for immediate Half Street Area – mostly privately owned
  • Half block from Navy Yard – Ballpark Metro stop, planned retail area in walkable location
  • Best and highest use for property – an incredible opportunity for public benefit
Why a Market?
  • Markets are a growing national trend and a way of life – benefits public health and small business
  • Could provide BOTH produce/prepared foods AND educational training opportunity for DC citizens
  • Capitol Riverfront community could use facility as a place to host public events
  • Location is accessible by metro, bus, bike, walking, and eventually streetcar
Local Surroundings

The existing structure is a 30,000 square foot, 1934 brick warehouse positioned at L and Half streets SE. The site is a prime location for public access by transit, bicycling, and walking. The interior is a large, open-plan space with tall ceilings and exposed structural framing. It is airy and spacious, and could easily be transformed into a market hall.
This idea would greatly improve the immediate community by drawing visitors that would create a vibrant street life not currently seen other than on Nationals game days. This added foot traffic and visual interest would certainly improve local neighborhood desirability.


The preferred design option consists of preserving the building’s original structure and façade and opening it up with large, glazed garage doors. The restaurant would be lofted above the existing building and a portion of the existing roof would be transformed into a working roof garden.
Ground Floor could consist of:
  • Main market hall for typical market setting and special events
  • Permanent vendor stalls
  • Support kitchens
  • Flexible workshop space
  • Corner retail
  • Building services
Upper Floor could consist of:
  • Restaurant and kitchen
  • Kitchen classroom (for vocational use)
  • Roof garden & terraces

Flexibility is a crucial design driver. Half Street Market will be aim to be as flexible as possible in layout to accommodate the most amount of uses as possible. The market will be the primary use, however design flexibility will allow the space to not only be a market, but can serve the community for events and programs. HSM could also be used for festivals & fundraisers, films/speeches/lectures, food truck events, and small concerts/performances.


Proposed NW Corner
The warehouse as it exists today doesn’t contribute much to the street life – 4 brick walls closed off to everything. The Half Street Market concept could completely change that; bricked up openings could be replaced with large, glazed, folding doors that all open in nice weather. Half street itself could be re-imagined as a plaza. Market visitors and restaurant patrons would provide a constant stream of pedestrians to the site all day long.
Proposed SW Corner
This idea would greatly improve the immediate community by drawing visitors that would create a vibrant street life not currently seen other than on Nationals game days. This added foot traffic and visual interest would certainly improve local neighborhood desirability.


The Half Street Market concept aligns with the District's goal of training D.C. residents for D.C. jobs:

Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) Five Year Economic Strategy
One City Action Plan – Mayor Gray’s 2013 State of the District Address
-  Develop a hospitality training program at a local university
-  Job Creation – 100,000 jobs over the next five years
-  Establish a culinary incubator that provides business and job training opportunities for residents
-  Training DC residents for DC jobs – only 30% of DC jobs currently go to district residents
-  Repurpose vacant properties for local artists and the creative community
-  Supporting entrepreneurs and small business creation

Many DC residents lack formal training and would-be businesses can’t get established due to high rent rates or lack of investment capital. Culinary Incubators mitigate the risk associated with start-up costs for small businesses.

Mayor Gray realized this in his recent State of the District speech:

“We are also leveraging the new found interest and talent the District’s growing fine dining scene has attracted to create culinary incubators.”

The culinary incubator will provide opportunities for training and education in the following ways:
  • Equipment use
  • Marketing, finance, planning, and management
  • Access to business development resources

Acquiring the property for public use is the most important step to making this idea happen. Public use conveyance is the most straightforward approach. This concept would be aimed at achieving a 100% value discount from GSA for an approved Educational use.

However, other uses have first priority over the property before public conveyance cases are heard. It is entirely possible that another agency or municipality will take the property before we can even plead our case to GSA!

How can you help? Support community advocacy for the Half Street Market by staying informed and engaging local public officials about the concept. It may be possible to bypass the disposal process with the help of elected officials.
Feel free to contact us at any point with questions, words of support or to join our cause by emailing us at

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