Housing Complex

Capital City/Florida Avenue No More: Developers Go With Throwback “Union Market”

Looks like an icon to me. (Lydia DePillis)

Developer Edens & Avant is throwing a massive ice cream social at Florida Avenue and 6th Street NE on Saturday, but as Richard Layman notes, the more interesting thing is what they're calling the area: Rather than Capital City Market or Florida Avenue Market, as it's been colloquially known for years, the poster says "Union Market."

Checking in with the company, it looks like the name is there to stay. "Going forward, we wanted to build on the culinary heritage associated with the original Union Market, while also modernizing it as the area reestablishes itself as a new foodie destination," an Edens & Avant spokesperson tells me.

Going with the historical name (read all about the history here) seems like a smart move—akin to the branding of San Francisco's Ferry Building, Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, and Seattle's Pike Place Market. Of course, the name is the smallest part of the redevelopment's success. I'll be curious to see what kind of business plan they put together, considering how much the wholesaling industry has changed since the market's heyday.

  • Hillman

    If done right Union Market could be a gem of a resource.

    As it is now it's mostly just wholesale businesses that don't bring much to the community directly, and could be done from anywhere in the region, at a fraction of the land cost.

    If it were mine I'd maintain some of it, redevelop to denser use some, but what remained would be a string of restaurants, bars, an Eastern Market type setup, etc.

    But run by me so I could avoid all the constant in-fighting and idiocy that often mar Eastern Market.

  • http://marketurbanism.com Stephen Smith

    It's unclear to me why people think this should continue to be a wholesale market to begin with. Food wholesaling is an inherently auto-oriented business, and these parcels are prime TOD.

    Then again, I'm also apparently too stupid to understand why this and all the property around it is zoned for industrial use. (Office of Planning tells me it's because there isn't enough industrial-zoned land in DC, but given that at least half the plots are vacant or used for parking cars, industry doesn't seem to want it.)

  • J

    As long as Litteri's stays they can do whatever they want.

  • utility

    A lot of people are not aware about it, but there is actually a LOT of retail outlets in the market. It's a different experience than a Whole Foods, but there are dozens of places to get all manner of fruit, cuts of meat, spices, and more. A huge loss of opportunity--it is too bad that there is no organization or cooperation among the owners/vendors to clean up the place a bit and market it.

    That sign in the picture is a perfect example-- how much would it be to repair it and the flag poles? - a few thousand probably. With some imagination (and study of places like West Side Market in Cleveland and other old markets around the world, the place could be a real gem.

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