City Desk

Will the 14th and U Farmers Market Survive the Reeves Center Land Swap?

Planning for the redevelopment of the Reeves Center may be in its nascent stages, but area residents are already agitating to ensure that the neighborhood's Saturday farmers market at 14th and U survives the potential leveling of the D.C. government-owned building.

The city announced in July that it plans to swap the Reeves Center, which houses several D.C. agencies and serves as a community gathering place, to developer Akridge for two acres of land at Buzzard Point, where the District government hopes to build a new D.C. United soccer stadium.

The District Department of General Services held a community meeting Tuesday night in the Reeves Center to discuss the potential development plans. Residents laid out their concerns—mainly that they don't want just another luxury condo building in the neighborhood and that they want at least some office space to bring daytime traffic that would benefit area businesses.

There was one other demand: They want the seven-year-old farmers market that takes place in front of the Reeves Center to stay.

When one resident pressed DGS Chief Operating Officer Scott Burrell on the fate of the market, he said he wasn't sure, but that his department look for alternate spaces for anything that's displaced by the new facility. "I'm not sure what the answer of what we'd do is," Burrell said.

Robin Shuster, the founder and director of the 14 & U Farmers Market, said she's already started looking for a new space but so far has come up empty. She doesn't want to stray more than a few blocks from its current location, but there's not much free space in that corridor, which has become one of D.C.'s most popular (and pricey) areas.

Construction won't start for at least another three years, so there's still plenty of time to find a new home for the market, which currently uses the 60-feet-deep sidewalks in front of Reeves. Shuster says it could make do with 25-feet-deep sidewalks, and hopes any new plans for the site will allow for that.

According to Shuster, the market draws as many as 900 people during its four hours of operation each week. As it becomes necessary, she said she would circulate petitions and rally the market's supporters to ensure it outlasts the Reeves Center in that location.

"It's extremely important for the farmers market to be visible," Shuster said. "This is the perfect location."

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