Housing Complex

Congress to Hold Hearing on Vacant Property at L Street SE Warehouse

A warehouse today, a hearing room next week, a market thereafter?

A warehouse at 49 L St. SE that doesn't typically see much action is about to receive some unusual visitors: a congressional committee discussing ways to return unused federal property to productive use.

Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who chairs the subpanel on government operations, has called a hearing for next Thursday, April 25, in the Capitol Riverfront warehouse that neighbors are working to convert into a market, according to Charles Allen, chief of staff to Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells. Wells has been asked to testify at the hearing on the District's work to turn unused federal buildings and land into neighborhood-serving assets, as well as the market concept itself.

The 30,000-square-foot federally owned warehouse would become the "Half Street Market," similar to Eastern Market or Union Market, if neighbors' plans come to fruition.

Last year, Mica and other members of Congress criticized the General Services Administration for moving too slowly in selling federal property like this warehouse and the West Heating Plant in Georgetown, the auction for which closed last month. At the time, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) said the subcommittee would consider holding hearings at vacant federal properties around the country if GSA didn't start moving on them more quickly. Now, the congressmen appear to be making good on their pledge.

"Their central line seems to be saying, 'GSA, you've got these vacant federal properties. What's your plan for them?'" says Allen.

According to Allen, the hearing is open to the public and will take place at 9:30 a.m. next Thursday at 49 L Street SE. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which oversees the subcommittee, did not immediately have any information on the hearing, but I'm expecting to hear from them soon.

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