Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Is the Florida Market going down?

Sam Wang Produce

Sam Wang ProduceSam Wang Produce.
From "Florida Market Movements," via the Frozen Tropics blog:

I came across a post on the blog In Shaw (Truxton Circle) mentioning that the agenda for tonight's Bates Area Civic Association contains a presentation by John Ray on the Florida Market & Residences at Florida Ave & 4th NE (it sounds from the In Shaw post like the building is supposed to be 10 stories). This presentation is related to the plan to transform the Capital City Market/Florida Market area (the unofficial proposal, which I think stinks, involves basically bulldozing the existing market, putting up some "affordable" housing, adding stuff like a bowling alley, outdoor ampitheater, YMCA, youth center, medical clinic, ect., & basically setting up a suburban style mini-town with the o-so-creative name of "New Town").Here's the meeting info in case you are dying to hear Mr. Ray's speech:

Bates Area Civic Association, Inc. Monthly Meeting
Mt. Sinai Baptist Church
3rd and Q Streets, NW
Community Room
Washington, DC
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Monday Sept. 11th
1. I can't go to the meeting.

2. I had planned to blog about this later, but on Saturday I met a farmers market vendor in Alexandria who uses the Florida Market to support the development of his business. His dream is to open a place like Litteri's which he thinks is the best Italian Deli south of Brooklyn or Philadelphia. (And he likes the idea of bringing about Elise's idea of adding a traditional Italian coffee shop-bakery to the market.)

He discussed how Baltimore closed down its similar wholesale operation in favor of Jessup and how besides leading to the closure of both wholesale and retail businesses that relied upon these previously easily accessible businesses, and that:

a. Prices went way up.
b. Quality of the items available went down.
c. Variety of the types of items made available decreased.

I want to take the Ward Planner and others to go talk to him as he also has a booth at the Tuesday US DOT farmers market in SW.
Joseph  ClementeJoseph Clemente sells vegetarian pannini sandwiches and fresh squeezed orange juice at the Alexandria, DOT, and Fairfax City farmers markets. This photo is from Market Square, Alexandria, during the Alexandria Art Fair.

3. I have been meaning to mention for more than one week, this sentence from a Post article:

During his time on the council, several large businesses, including Home Depot and Giant, have opened in his retail-starved ward, and a large mixed-use project named New Town is slated for the area next to Gallaudet University.

"Orange Offers Contract to Voters," subtitled "Candidate Outlines Plans for Education, Housing and Safety," by Elissa Silverman, from the Saturday September 3rd edition.

Slated means done deal. This isn't a done deal.

But the Growth Machine is inexorable and doesn't deviate. As long as there are great profits to be had.

4. Like the Skyland project discussed earlier, the New Towns proposal pushed by John Ray and Vincent Orange, will require eminent domain seizures, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars of government subsidies, which is discussed in this good article, from the July issue of the Hill Rag and DC North:

Many of the 1,500 vendors and employees at Washington's wholesale market doubt the development will have room for them.

5. Speaking of seeding businesses, this is from the Keany Produce website. Keany Produce started out in a vendor slot in the Florida Market, and was located at one time where Sam Wang Produce is located today:

In 1978, Kevin Keany had a vision. After working for another produce wholesaler for two years, he had come to like the business. Despite the long hours and uncertainties of the industry, Kevin decided to take a gamble and start his own company. What followed is a classic story of dedication and success that ultimately involved the entire Keany family and led to the creation of the Washington area’s largest and most successful produce wholesaler.

Kevin began Keany Produce Company in a small warehouse slot in the old Washington D.C. market. He delivered fresh fruits and vegetables from the back of a Dodge van to restaurants in Old Town Alexandria, starting well before dawn each morning and working late into the afternoon. In spite of overwhelming odds, the one-man business flourished. Kevin brought his customers a spirit of hands-on commitment and honest dealing. An ever-increasing customer base and larger orders soon followed.

The new enterprise continued to grow, and Kevin was joined by his brothers Chris, Dan and Ted. Their father, Patrick Keany, Sr., had a successful contract food business and also lent his support to the enterprise. Together, they set out to build on the early success of Keany Produce Company and create a legacy that would define the standard for service and trade reputation for the Washington area for many years to come.

Over two decades later, there is no question that they have been immensely successful. The Keany Produce story is one of innovation and excellence. As the years passed, the company consistently captured a larger share of the competitive local market. The Keany brothers and their father worked tirelessly to provide their customers with the finest quality produce at a fair price, and soon developed a reputation for being the purveyor of choice to the area’s finest hotels and restaurants.
In this day of multi-national corporations, Keany Produce Company is still a family owned business with each of the Keany brothers taking an active role in day-to-day operations. An experienced management and sales team supplements the direct involvement of the principals. This gives our clients the benefits of a stable and well-organized operation that is able to embrace the opportunities and challenges of continued growth while retaining an emphasis on sound business practices and personalized customer service. ...

Twenty-three years have seen a lot of changes. Keany Produce Company now employs over 300 people -- a far cry from one man and a pickup truck. The entire staff is dedicated to the ultimate success of Keany Produce and its clientele.... Keany Produce owns and operates a fleet of 80-plus refrigerated trucks, with a delivery area encompassing Washington, Baltimore and Northern Virginia but also Frederick, Md., Richmond/Fredericksburg, Va., and the Eastern Shore.

Our new multi-million dollar warehouse facility is unrivaled in the metropolitan area, and provides the company with the ability to expand in order to keep pace with the needs of its customers well into the next century.
story4Keany images from their website.

But DC doesn't really have an active program working to retain such businesses. And now these people all work out in Maryland...

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