Friday Question of the Day – Do You Agree With Old City Green?

Old City Green is located on the southwest corner of 9th and N St, NW.

Dear PoPville,

We here at OLD CITY green wanted to let you know about some recent developments in our journey as a small business and community gathering space. As you may have heard, we were recently informed that we are losing our lease on this space at the end of August. We had been verbally told in the winter that we had two years on the lot, but a month later that was changed to just a five month lease.

Although our landlord (Douglas Development) has been very kind over the years and has gone out of their way to help us stay afloat, this short notice has a negative impact on our survival as a business and community green space. Douglas Development and CAS Riegler are joining forces to start developing a 5 story condo/mixed use building on our spot beginning fall of this year.

We have been essentially left out of the conversation, unable to compete with the multi-million dollar project slated to take place. Moving plants and beehives in the middle of summer takes its toll. Ideally, a green business would relocate in the off season to minimize loss. Having to move before Christmas, means 30% of our yearly revenue is at stake. We very much want to stay in the neighborhood as we feel that we have become a community space that is more than just a retail store. However, we are struggling to find an affordable place to buy or rent.

OLD CITY green has been called the green beating heart of the community, and as of yet our green heart has no place to go. OLD CITY green has not only provided product, but has become an educational and neighborhood gathering space as well.

Here are a few examples of how we have been a part of the community over the years:

-“Best New Shaw Business” 2009 Shaw Main Streets
-Washington City Paper’s “Best Garden Store” of 2011
-“Shaw Community Partner Award” 2011 Shaw Main Streets
-Approx. 4,000 flower bulbs over a period of 4 years planted in Shaw tree boxes during our annual “Tulip Planting” event
-4 Easter egg hunts, 8 movie nights, and a Halloween haunted garden event for neighborhood kids
-Employing teens from the neighborhood
-Teaching nutritional health and local food education in DC high school
-Teaching 12 gardening and nutrition workshops for clients at Bread for the City
-Hiring local musicians to play on site for our neighbors and customers
-Educational field trips for DC schools
-Free workshops (Seed bomb making, herbal tea, fall vegetable planting, native landscaping)
-Hosting neighborhood garden tours
– A certified Butterfly Way Station
-Offered approx. $30,000 in discounts and free product to neighborhood gardeners, local businesses and DC non-profits
-Hosted a Community Supported Agriculture program for about 100 Shaw households for three years running
-Member of “Live Green” and “Think Local First”
-Worked with non profit organizations such as Bread for the City, DC Greenworks, Casey Trees, City Blossoms, and the Neighborhood Farm Initiative
-Hosted fundraisers for So Others Might Eat, N St. Village, Shaw Main Streets, DC Children First,Metro Teen Aids, and Wangari Gardens
-Supporting and working with other local small businesses such as Chatman’s Bakery, Seasonal Pantry, Longview Gallery, Wagtime, Azi’s Cafe, etc.
-Hosting volunteer teams for beautification of the neighborhood
-Donations of labor, time and product to local churches such as Shiloh Baptist Church with Seaton Green, Salem Baptist Church, and The Immaculate Conception

We don’t write this to victimize ourselves, but we feel that we are an example of a bigger issue going on here. Large condos are popping up all over the place, perpetuating the “building up, not building community” problem of gentrification. If developers are going to build more condos and apartments and bring in more people, there needs to be a place for people to go to for their “green” and other specialty item needs. As local, independent businesses are pushed out of the inner city, the systemic response is to go to the big box stores (Home Depot, Costco, Target, WalMart), which take money and good paying jobs away from the local economy.

There will be a public hearing about our lot on June 26th at 9:30 in 220-S, 1 Judiciary Square, 441 4th St., NW.

It’s not easy being green,
The OLD CITY green team

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