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Empty space, to become Greenspace.

On the 1st Street side of Nationals Stadium, there’s a long bank of storefronts that have never been occupied—-perhaps because nobody’s around to shop there except on game days, when everybody is inside the ballpark anyway. If things go as planned, it should become a draw to the area in itself, as a 12,000-square-foot center for green building and design called Greenspace.

The concept has been in the works for a couple years now, when GreenHOME director Patty Rose first found the location in Near Southeast. As envisioned, it’ll be a free space to come learn about green building materials, requirements, and technologies, with space for meetings, trainings, and events.

But despite a “launch” yesterday, it won’t actually start happening until Rose is able to raise another $600,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, adding up to the $2 million necessary to build out what’s currently a blank shell. The Business Journal reported in 2009 that either the District or the Lerner family, which owns the majority of the baseball team, would give the project a break on rent. The ultimate arrangement will remain a secret, though—-Rose tells me that her lease forbids her from publicly discussing the terms.

Free rent is probably a pre-requisite for something like the Greenspace concept, which won’t earn any income. And forfeiting that revenue stream would be an acknowledgment that the space wasn’t really viable for retail anyway. Now, the District has two non-profit architecture learning hub thingies looking for more cash, what with the District Architecture Center on 7th Street still hoping for donations. Can D.C. sustain both?

A view of the inside. (Gensler)