In a promising sign, Wunder Garten–the large proposed outdoor beer garden in NoMa–has applied for an alcohol license. You can read our preview post here.
Last summer, NoMa came close to getting a beer garden in the vacant lot in between the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro station and the Flats 130 apartment building (at 150 M Street, NE). The large lot has previously been used as a construction staging area but is now vacant for the time being. At that time, negotiations between the potential business partners and Stonebridge Carras, the landowner, did not work out. Now, however, negotiations have resumed and it seems very likely that the beer garden will become a reality this spring.
Business partners, including the owner of L’Enfant Cafe in Adams Morgan, are planning a hybrid beer garden and park that will cater to guests of all ages (and will likely allow dogs as well). The fenced in lot will be leveled and landscaped in a way that maintains a large open area for recreational activities. The partners in Wunder Garten are working closely with the NoMa Business Improvement District on the design to maximize the park area as NoMa currently has a deficit of parks. There will be beer benches like one would find in a German beer garden and a significant portion of the space will have a tent over it for rain. They will have multiple beers on tap at the bar they will build on site that will mostly be German and Austrian, but they do plan on having a few local microbrews as well. The space will not have a kitchen (the nearby Harris Teeter that is technically on the same land restricts what kinds of food can be sold in the space); however, there will be 2-3 food trucks in the space that will rotate. High end portable restrooms will be available for customers. In all, the space will be designed to fit 200-300 people inside.
Todd Gray’s Watershed, the coastal cuisine restaurant located within the Hilton Garden Inn in NoMa, has undergone several changes over the past couple of months. Less than a year after opening the restaurant in 2011, Todd Gray turned over operations of the restaurant to Culinaire, a food and hospitality management company (Gray operates several restaurants and wrote a cookbook). According to David Wood, Senior Vice President with Culinaire, Gray still plays an active role with Watershed and spends time in the kitchen every month with the staff. He recommends and changes certain dishes on the menu so that they maintain his “style and vision.” Culinaire’s vision for Watershed is to have the restaurant represent “a road trip down the Eastern Seaboard” like Todd Gray initially envisioned.
Now, the restaurant has brought in new Executive Chef Joseph Paire who has conducted an overhaul of the menu that features several exciting new dishes (view menu here). A D.C. native, Paire graduated from Johnson and Wales culinary school and has since worked in several kitchens around D.C. including Sonoma, Mussel Bar, Lincoln (opening Chef de Cuisine), and most recently Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown. He was excited to come over to Watershed because of the restaurant’s beautiful space and the growing NoMa neighborhood. Continue reading
For the purposes of this post, the eastern section is defined as the area and buildings starting on the northern side of Florida Avenue, NE at 5th Street, going over to 6th Street, and then running up in between both streets until Penn Street (including Morse Street). You can view our interactive map here (note: this is not perfectly drawn to scale and does not perfectly reflect lot lines, etc). The properties are colored by owner; the color purple indicates that the property is not owned by one of the large development companies.
The eastern section of Union Market is the area that has seen the most development recently thanks to Edens’s construction of the Union Market building. This section is also likely to see significant additional development in the coming years thanks to two owners controlling the majority of the real estate: Edens and Gallaudet University. Edens has elaborate plans to add to the existing Union Market building, while Gallaudet University has an elaborate vision for redeveloping 6th Street to add retail and to integrate Union Market with Gallaudet’s campus that is currently somewhat isolated. Recently Gallaudet University chose JBG–a major DC developer that controls several parcels in NoMa–as the firm it would partner with to develop its land.
Starting at Florida Avenue in between 5th and 6th streets (view interactive map here):
- 500 and 520 Florida Avenue (purple on map): this land that comprises the entire block of Florida Avenue is controlled by one owner. Currently, 520 Florida Avenue houses a Hess gas station. No plans have been announced for any kind of redevelopment.
Turn left down 6th Street and walk north (view interactive map here):
- Right (east) side of the street (yellow on map): all of this land on 6th Street is owned by Gallaudet University, all the way up to Neal Place (across the road from the Edens’s Union Market building). In the coming years it will be developed by Gallaudet working with JBG. Past Neal Place, the land is part of Brentwood Park and will not be developed.
Turn left onto Morse Street and head west (view interactive map here):
For the purposes of this post, the middle section is defined as the area and buildings starting on the northern side of Florida Avenue, NE at 4th Street, going over to 5th Street, and then running up in between both streets until Penn Street (including Morse Street and Neal Place). You can view our interactive map here (note: this is not perfectly drawn to scale and does not perfectly reflect lot lines, etc). The properties are colored by owner; the color purple indicates that the property is not owned by one of the large development companies.
***Update: after this post went live, the Washington Business Journal reported that Edens used a series of hidden LLCs to purchase much of the property on the western side of 5th Street in between Morse Street and Neal Place. This would seem to indicate that Edens has plans to purchase all of this property for a future development. The post has been updated below to reflect Edens’s ownership of these parcels.**
The middle section of Union Market is the area least likely to see significant change in the coming years, with three exceptions. Unlike the areas to the east and west, most of the middle section does not have large parcels of land owned by major developers. Instead, much of the middle section is owned by a variety of independent owners and the buildings are broken up into smaller shops. This diverse ownership makes it difficult for anyone to consolidate ownership and make major changes quickly.
The first exception is the western side of 5th Street in between Morse Street and Neal Place where Edens has purchased several individual parcels over the past couple of months. Edens has yet to purchase several of the properties in this block, but the company appears to be aggressively buying the properties in an attempt to consolidate ownership of the entire block for a potential future development.
The second exception is the land along Florida Avenue in between 4th and 5th streets because Edens owns all of the block except for one parcel.
The final exception is the Choi family which owns many pieces of land in the middle part of the Union Market area. In the mid-2000s, Sang Oh Choi developed a plan with several members of the DC City Council where his company would consolidate ownership of Union Market and redevelop it. The plan was very controversial as many of the landowners feared they would be pushed out, and it ultimately fell apart. However, the Choi family continues to own land in the area and could be a major player in the years ahead (Sang Oh Choi worked with Edens on the Gateway Market project).
Instead of seeing change that is driven by large developers, the middle section is more likely to see slow change as independent owners begin to renovate and freshen up their buildings as the rest of the area redevelops. It is also possible that the large developers could buy a bunch of the small properties (as Edens is actively doing), but this strategy would take time as there are so many owners.
Starting on Florida Avenue in between 4th and 5th streets (view interactive map here):
- Corner of 4th Street (red on map): Edens owns from the corner of 4th Street up until 416 4th Street. The plans for this land are unknown.
- 416 Florida Avenue (purple on map): this land is currently occupied by Yum’s Carryout. Edens has attempted to purchase this land from Yum’s in the past but has been unsuccessful. However, this parcel represents the only land on the block that Edens does not own.
- 418 Florida Avenue (red on map): Edens owns this parcel. Plans unknown.
Turn left down 5th Street and then turn down Morse Street (view interactive map here):
- 416 Morse Street (red on map): this property is owned by 416 Morse Street NE LLC, which Washington Business Journal reports is an LLC that is likely owned by Edens.
- The properties to the south are owned by a mix of independent owners and the Choi family. The corner unit on 5th Street is independently owned, followed by 419 that is owned by the Choi family, followed by 417 that is owned by another independent owner, followed by 413-415 Morse Street that are owned by the Choi family, and then the rest of the block is owned by independent owners.
For the purposes of this post, the western section is defined as the area starting on the northern side of Florida Avenue, NE by 3rd Street, going over to 4th Street, and then running up the western side of 4th Street until Penn Street. You can view our interactive map here (note: this is not perfectly drawn to scale and does not perfectly reflect lot lines, etc). The properties are colored by owner; the color purple indicates that the property is not owned by one of the large development companies.
The western section of Union Market is the area most likely to see significant changes soon. This area has several large warehouse buildings that are either owned by major developers or are for sale currently. Plans have already been announced for three of these parcels, and one will break ground soon.
Before moving on to individual properties, it is important that we provide some background context on Edens, the company that operates the new Union Market building and that owns much of the land in the area. Edens, a South Carolina company, specializes in large retail projects across the United States. They usually focus on retail, but many of their projects include large portions of residential or office space. Some of their nearby projects include Jenkins Row in Southeast and the Mosaic District in Fairfax. Edens completely renovated the Union Market building and has a vision for how to revitalize the entire area that includes significant housing and food-oriented retail. The company also has the money to buy properties and redevelop them quickly; the company got a $1.5 billion investment late last year and, according to The Washington Post, plans to expand the value of the properties in its portfolio from $4 billion to $7 billion.
Now for the specific properties, beginning in the southwest corner on Florida Avenue (view interactive map here):
- 320 Florida Avenue (green on map): this land is currently occupied by a Burger King but was purchased by Level 2 (Level 2 is working on the residential aspect of Edens’s 1270 4th Street project). The company plans around 200 apartments and retail for the space but has yet to file formal plans.
- 350 Florida Avenue (red on map), Gateway Market: this lot starts on Florida Avenue and moves up 4th Street. The land is currently empty. The land was purchased by Edens after it had already gone through the zoning process under different ownership (the Choi Family, also major landowners in the area, previously owned it), and Edens recently modified the plans. Now Gateway Market will feature 170-216 residential units, including 20% affordable housing, and will also have major retail space on the ground floor. Edens initially had planned to break ground this year but has now stated that it will be early next year.
After Gateway Market, imagine turning left down Morse Street and walking to the end of the street (view interactive map here):
- 300 Morse Street (yellow on map): this major warehouse property is currently for sale.
- 350 Morse Street (turquoise on map): D.C. titan Douglas Development purchased this warehouse last year for $14.5 million. No plans have been announced yet for the property.
Union Market developer Edens has a major retail tenant for its future retail/residential project at 1270 4th Street, NE in the Union Market area (top red box on map). Speaking at a meeting of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C Planning, Zoning, and Environment Committee last week, representatives for Edens gave a presentation on their plans for the 1270 4th Street parcel that is to the southwest of Edens’s existing Union Market building. Edens is planning an apartment building with major retail on the first and second floors. According to Edens, they already have a culinary retailer who will occupy the retail space and who will create a Union Market-style eatery space. The retailer is apparently a significant name in the culinary world that people will recognize, and this project is the first of its kind for this person in the United States. However, the identity of the retailer is not being released because the project is several years away from breaking ground. When an ANC Commissioner joked that it was Eataly (there have been rumors that Eataly is coming to a different part of town for years), Edens joked that it was a good guess but not correct. We reached out to Edens after the meeting for additional comment but did not hear back.
View our interactive Union Market map here.