“Help to save the 14&U Farmers Market — and the Post Office at the Reeves Center”

14th and U Street, NW

Thanks to a reader for sending:

“We need your help to save the 14&U Farmers Market — and the Post Office at the Reeves Center at 14th and U.

You may have read that the Reeves Center will sold to a developer (to pay for a soccer stadium at Buzzard Point). There is a very important meeting TUESDAY DEC 17th at 6 pm at the Reeves Center to hear from the community about what we want in that new development. We need you to come and tell the city that we want the farmers market to be able to be at that site, that we want the Post Office at that site, and that we need to replace this office complex with offices –not residential — that will create daytime traffic.

The Reeves Center is a huge office complex that supported local daytime business for our retail and restaurants. It needs to be replaced with something else that would support daytime business. We have a very lively nightlife and weekend life, but our businesses and restaurants need daytime traffic.

Thank you for you help and I hope to see you Tuesday, December 17th at 6 pm at the Reeves Center. Please spread the word.”

67 Comment

  • Who is “we” exactly? I’m not necessarily opposed to any of these things, but it would be nice to know who I’d be getting in bed with. Also, I’m pretty sure that office space isn’t in the cards here; my understanding is that we are talking residential/retail.

  • Wouldn’t the office create more daytime traffic than a residential building? **scratches head**

    • lovefifteen

      Yes, which is exactly what they said. You must have misread something.

    • Thanks, PoP. I’m all for the Farmers’ Market. And, yes, offices might create more daytime traffic, but my point was that, regardless, we can’t dictate to a private developer that they build an office building. I’d also be real interested in knowing how much the Reeves Center as an office complex has actually been contributing to local businesses. I’d venture a guess: not much.

      • Well, the city *can* do that, can’t it? It’s just a question of trade-offs. If the market is better for residential, then it might get less if it seeks an office development, for example.

    • Yep – it is just not very clearly worded. Terrible – use of – dashes. Does anyone know if the city is fully utilizing the building now?

  • Huh. I hadn’t really thought about the impact of losing the Reeves Center on daytime foot traffic. An interesting point!

    • lovefifteen

      The only businesses that would likely suffer from loss of daytime foot traffic are the lunch places around the Reeves Center. We’re talking about McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Orange & Black, Taylor Gourmet, etc. Somehow I think they’ll survive.

      The area has loads of foot traffic 24-7. I live two blocks away, and this place is never, ever dead. Something seems overly dramatic about this appeal for help. Why on earth do they care about a Post Office, for instance?

      • You should care about this Post Office, if you live only two blocks away. This is where USPS packages are held, if you’re not available to sign for them! I frequently get international packages, all of which need to be signed for in-person. I also live about 3 blocks away and this location is extremely convenient.
        If you haven’t noticed, they’re closing Post Offices not opening new ones. Once this is gone, the neighborhood isn’t getting another Post Office location to replace it.

        • +1 on keeping a post office here.

        • lovefifteen

          I live in a building where the management signs for our packages and put them in our apartment. I still maintain that this place has plenty of foot traffic during the day. After all, the Reeves Center is basically empty, and the fast food places are doing fine.

          • Well, then it’s fine for you if the PO goes away. But you asked why other people might care and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realize that not everyone has this service.

      • I also live 3 blocks away. This area definitely does not have “loads of foot traffic” during the work day. Residential may be a better outcome here than offices for a number of reasons, but that statement just isn’t true.

        • lovefifteen

          There is plenty of foot traffic at 14th & U. Just wait until there is a Trader Joe’s on this corner. It’s going to get even more crowded.

          • The foot traffic on this corner during the day is mostly compromised of under-employed folks hanging around to catch the various busses. They are totally within their right to be there, but let’s not pretend like they are contributing to a lot of daytime economic activity. The area is generally pretty quiet, save for a yuppie mom walking her kids in an expensive stroller.

          • Agree with Anonymous. Daytime foot traffic during the weekday is indeed light (other than the underemployed as stated), and as someone who works from home near here, I’ve always wished more of the neighborhood restaurants were open for lunch, but most are not, because there isn’t enough weekday day time foot traffic! We have more than enough residential housing around here.

  • I understand why you’d want it to remain office space, but that would likely reduce the value of the land and thus how much the city gets in return for it. The city is under pressure from other interest groups to get as much money as possible in completing this deal, so demanding that it be office would put it between a rock and a hard place. Also, more residential supply might relieve some upward price pressure on older rentals in the immediate area for those concerned about affordability.

    • Good points, too. There are lots of reasons why residential/retail seems what is most likely to happen here. Still, it’s unfortunate that development here has been rather one-dimensional. Not sure what that will mean for the neighborhood long term.

  • lovefifteen

    Why exactly do the folks that run the Farmer’s Market care about foot traffic during the work week? And why do they want to keep a US Post Office in this area? Something seems odd about this.

    • Which is exactly why I asked the question. The Farmers Market doesn’t care about the Post Office. Sounds like the workings of the Shaw Dupont Citizens Alliance to me.

      • Wallach Place. Connect the dots.

        • Why do you say its SDCA and Wallach? Didn’t they *kill* daytime foot traffic when they killed the hotel project?

          • Definitely Wallach/SDCA. They were all about the post office last time. And they’ve been very vocal about every proposed new building in the area NOT being residential, so why would Reeves be any different? They don’t want any more residents in the neighborhood, period, because to them it’s parking parking parking. Very tiresome. Fortunately, they overreached on the liquor license moratorium and lost whatever little credibility they had.

  • The Reeves center is mostly empty today so anything would increase the foot traffic during the day. I’m a big supporter of the 14th and U Farmer’s market but I’m also ready for this brutalistic structure to go.

  • to be honest there are 5 other ‘Farmers markets’ Mt Pleasant, CoHi, Adams morgan, im sure dupont has one, go to eastern market. Im not worried about the farmers market they can set up somewhere else. The post office is nice and there is no other one close by, a UPS store would be great too.

    • What does the fact that there are farmers markets in Mt Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, and Capitol Hill have to do with making sure this one stays? (including during the 1-2 years of construction when the Reeves Center comes down)

      Just because you’re not worried doesn’t mean there is not cause for worry for those of us who value this market.

      • Unnecessary Drama …

        • You really haven’t got a clue…or you are simply trolling, “Anonymous.”

          The Reeves Center is slated to be torn down. People who go to the market there just want to insure it will be kept as a priority as the plan for the site is developed. How is this “drama”?

      • lovefifteen

        There are other places nearby where the farmers market could go.

  • I wonder what the demand for office space is like on U Street. An office building doesn’t generate much traffic without tenants. And the only large office building I can think of on U that isn’t a DC Government building, is the one above the CVS at 10th and U.

    • jim_ed

      Very little, especially in comparison to the demand for residential on what is arguably the most valuable land parcel available for development. Chances this goes anything other than residential are somewhere between 0% and 0%

      • That’s what I figured. Perhaps Akridge will throw in a token office space or two to appease the NIMBYs. I can imagine a tech startup wanting office space in an area like U Street, though there aren’t enough of those in DC to fill an entire office building. How many people currently work at Reeves? I can’t imagine it’s more than a couple hundred.

        • This entire comment thread is weird. Or else I’m not steeped enough in neighborhood politics stuff. How is office space a NIMBY issue? Yeah, maybe there are some people who don’t want increased density, I guess. But there are plenty of other reasons to think some mixed use would be good for neighborhood. Not saying offices are right here, but calling in NIMBYism is just…weird.

    • There is a lot of office space on U Street. It doesn’t all have to be in large buildings, bro.

      • You are right. But we’re not talking about other places on U street. We’re talking about a historically large development opportunity at the very epicenter of two newly revitalized corridors (U and 14th, in case you weren’t paying attention). So the conversation on this thread is about the merits of building office or residential or both. Care to join the conversation anew?

  • there is no demand for office of this size at that location. I work in development and thats just a fact. Why do you think Dc govt was the tenant? We are always in the tenant in buildings that cant get leased by the private sector. So no private developer is going to take that site unless they can build residential.

    • Um…the city isn’t a tenant. This is a city owned building, built in an early revitalization effort for the area back in the day.

  • All I can say is thank God this eyesore of a building will be going away. And, I have no idea why the desperate plea for office space here, rather than residential. The development all along 14th street has been residential, with businesses at ground level. This approach has served the neighborhood well, and resulted in a vibrant street — at all hours. An office building, however, is dead on weekends and at night (check out K Street), so I really do not get the point of this request. I for one, hope this development is residential with street retail.

    • Interesting to note that there is no reference to the meeting on the Farmers Markets’ facebook page, but it’s the first link you see on the SDCA’s page. The farmers market doesn’t care about the post office or office buildings. In fact, if you’re the farmers’ market, would you rather have a large residential building full of weekend customers right at your door step, or an empty office building?

      I smell a rat.

      • lovefifteen

        Good job on investigating! This building is monstrously huge. It always seems to be relatively empty, too. It is such an eyesore, and when I walk by at night, I see tons and tons of roaches everywhere. Putting residential units here would bring hundreds of new customers for a farmer’s market. I smell a rat, too.

      • I received this info first from an email from the manager of the Farmer’s market.

    • The point is balanced activity. You are right that the area is busy at night, but it’s much less busy during the day. An office is dead at night, but busy during the day. So the OP is promoting the idea that maintaining office use at the Reeves site will help support businesses in the daytime.

      I am not sure that I agree – one building isn’t going to turn that area into a daytime boomtown. Reeves has been useful in that sense, particularly when it was new, but I doubt whatever replaces it can have a big enough impact. And although a post office and a space for a weekend market are nice neighborhood amenities, neither will have much impact on weekday daytime commerce. I am most interested in seeing the City get the highest price for the site, and if residential is the way to do that, I think I’d be happy with a residential building with ground floor commercial – including the post office. Or if any developer would be interested in reviving the hotel idea….

  • Why can’t the DC government just stay out of the stadium building business…..please!!!

    • Because the city owns the land that the developers want. Duh.
      This isn’t Soviet Russia; we don’t give away public assets for pennies on the dollar to enrich private individuals.
      The city also has development goals for the betterment of the entire population of DC that need to be considered. Even if the city requires that this be an office building, there will be developers salivating to build it and manage it. This chicken little/sky-is-falling argument that it can only be residential is fallacious.

      • “This isn’t Soviet Russia; we don’t give away public assets for pennies on the dollar to enrich private individuals.”

        You clearly know nothing about the proposed stadium deal. There will be three separate valuations by independent groups to ensure that the city’s swap of the Buzzard Point land + CASH is equal to the actual market value of the Reeves Center and the land it sits on. DC taxpayers will not be getting ripped off (unlike the Nationals Stadium deal).

        You are right, though, that the new development doesn’t have to be residential only. Odds are that this whole argument is a waste of time as they’ll almost certainly put in mixed use development (residential/office/retail).

  • All things equal, I would prefer to see offices here instead of residential. The demand most likely isn’t there, as many have already pointed out. Offices would indeed increase daytime foot traffic, which would be great for local businesses. “lovefifteen” talks about the “only local businesses” that would benefit…and mentions a few of the businesses in the vicinity. The truth is that any business open during daytime would stand to benefit, not just the ones you name. DC has worked hard to bring residential life to strictly office districts downtown, and for that they deserve much kudos. The second half of the equation is to try to bring (where feasible, obviously) office development to neighborhoods like this. A mix of uses will make the area more vibrant, and more safe, at all times of day. I doubt there’s a anchor tenant waiting to take the spot, but if there is hope of that, the city should explore it.

  • Leave the open sidewalks in the new plan. Residential, mixed use, office, doesn’t matter.

  • As others have pointed out, if they really care about high foot traffic, then a residential complex would beat an office complex in my opinion. It may not be as full during the day, but considering a lot of the dining options like Marvin’s and Eatonville, I would think they’d rather have people who live there and eat dinner and go out at night as opposed to office workers.

    • It’s not just about foot traffic, it’s about the dynamic of foot traffic – in this case, what time of day. A good restaurant in the area has proven its ability to pack the seats in the evening (see: Etto, Pearl Dive, Doi Moi and so on) but many places struggle during the day, or aren’t open at all. Residential density will continue to increase in the area, but there are very few opportunities like this to put in office or mixed use. While the desires of a group like us can’t put requirements on the development of the lot, and we certainly can’t create demand where there may be none, in my opinion a full office complex in that spot would do far more for the health of the community than another couple hundred condos. Office valuations are far more sensitive to Metro proximity than residential.

  • Hi all,

    Robin here from the farmer’s market. Quite right that as the farner’s market , we only ‘need’ the sidewalks to be deep enough for the market but as a resident since 1988 who buys from all the local businesses and eats locally, I can tell you that local retail and restaurants need daytime traffic. The Reeves Center is underpopulated now as many government agencies have moved to other neighborhoods but it has been very important and it’s replacement will have a huge impact as well. The city has a lot of clout in deciding what it wants in that space — and the community should discuss it.

  • Some really good points were made in the plea for help. That being said, I can’t imagine that there is much foot traffic during they day from that building. I do agree that the convenience of the farmers market and post office is nice. Ideally they would be included in the build-out somehow. Ultimately it is the developers decision.

    So has the Reeves center been officially sold? I thought the sale was a possibility but the details were still being worked out. Also, is there a farmers market contingency plan for the construction period? It’s a pretty small market and I barely pop by. I would just assume go to Dupont Circle. I actually think it would be really cool for the market to take over a city street on the weekends. They do this all over other cities (NYC in particular, although I hate to draw comparisons to NYC). It truly gives you a city feel. Sure it can create a traffic nightmare on a Saturday, but I would be willing to put up with that assuming the market was big and well thought out! Perhaps a section of 14th Street (pause, I will wait for everyone to stop screaming at me). But seriously, has that ever been considered? I would totally support an idea like this. Or perhaps Wallach place haha!

    • When you say that you can’t imagine there being much foot traffic during the day from the building are you talking about it as it is now (a largely unoccupied city building) or as it could (theoretically) be (a full office complex)? If there were market demand to put a full sized office building (definitely not a certainty), it would bring thousands of workers to the site every day – thousands of people eating lunch, doing dry cleaning, running errands.
      As for the farmers market, the one at 14/U is far better than the one at 14/Park. It has twice the selection and actually has produce, which the other somehow has a measly selection of. Neither hold a candle to the Dupont market, and it may even make some sense to combine the two into a market that can actually be (mostly) full service. As it is now, you can’t possibly use it as a replacement for a grocery run (insert readers rants about cost of these markets here).
      Lastly, +1 for the suggestion that DC could do more street closures. NY did it with far more vehicular traffic.

    • I personally love the 14/U farmers market and would not rather go to Dupont or the other options. It’s the right scale, the vendors are great, it’s close to where I live, and it’s adds to the vibrancy of the neighborhood. I look forward to it every Saturday it’s open.

      Taking over a city street is a good idea; that’s what Bloomingdale farmers market does. But what block?

  • 14th & U Farmers Market is on SATURDAY. Office building is usually(mostly) MONDAY-FRIDAY. What’s all the fuss about? As long as the Farmers Market has space somewhere (which I fully support), I can’t see adding office buildings to the neighborhood. In fact, with residential there, the market will have even more customers.

    Something is amiss here.

  • To everyone saying something is amiss and this must be the work of nefarious Wallachians, I’d suggest taking a deep breath and a step back. As “Robin” (I assume Shuster) says above, the people behind the farmers market are also long time local residents. The plea that PoP posted seems to cover their concerns as both organizers of the farmers market and local residents who would prefer to keep the post office and not have any more residential development added to the neighborhood.

    That said, I don’t think there’s any chance of this space staying offices, so please just make is something visually appealing and less imposing than the Louis.

  • Mixed use. That space will be huge, eliminate the atrium for better use of space, add a nice public plaza and keep the PO and farmers market. Done.

  • I hope the post office stays. The farmer’s market is nice too. Otherwise I am fine with whatever they put there. Couldn’t be worse than the Reeve’s center.

  • Would anyone be against the idea of mixture of offices and big-box companies (a la Target), while keeping the post office and farmer’s market? I honestly think we have plenty of residential buildings in the area as it is. This would allow for minimal renovations needed and maximum use of the current plaza structure.

  • … that farmer’s market is nothing to fight for. Go the Trader Joe’s across the street or the thousands of other farmer’s markets all over the city. Just let this ugly building be developed already!

    • Is this a quote? If not, who starts a sentence with an ellipsis?

      As for the farmer’s market, it is easily the second best in the city (Dupont is first).

      Also, the Trader Joe’s is not “across the street” – heck, it doesn’t even exist! Nor are there thousands of other farmer’s markets “all over the city.”

      But YES, let’s get that ugly building gone.

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