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On April 12, the Nationals will begin a fifth season at their “new” stadium on the southeast waterfront. Much of the neighborhood has been built out around it, but the long expanse of retail bays on the ballpark’s southeast side—-which have never been occupied—-will still sit empty and blank.
This wasn’t the plan. Last June, officials gathered to celebrate the imminent start of construction on Greenspace, a 12,ooo-square-foot exhibition storefront devoted to enviro-friendly building in the District. The Lerner family had given it some undisclosed deal on rent, and both monetary and in-kind donations were flowing in from architecture firms, contractors, foundations, and developers.
But the budget has ballooned since then. Greenspace executive director Patty Rose says mechanical and electrical infrastructure buildout will cost more than anticipated, boosting the total price tag from $2 million to $2.8 million. So while Greenspace had $600,000 to go last summer, it now has an even bigger gap of $1.5 million.
Rose is still optimistic, and has been meeting with potential donors. She won’t say whether the city’s willing to kick in any money, which probably means they’re thinking about it. In the mean time, it’s too bad no one figured out temporary uses during the four years the space has lain dormant.
The space’s prospects might’ve been different if Florida Rock, the mixed-use project planned for across the street, had gotten started when it was supposed to. Having more residences within walking distance would have increased the space’s exposure, but also demand for something other than an architectural showcase, which isn’t very appealing to anyone who’s in the neighborhood day in and day out. The Zoning Commission was adamant at Florida Rock’s latest appearance that it include retail along Potomac Avenue, because it really should be something more than the dead concrete expanse it’s been since the Nationals got there in 2008.