Southwest DC Neighborhood Concerned About Land Used for Farmers Market, Festivals

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Plans to redevelop two prominent plots of land in the District aren't sitting well with some residents.

The Southwest Farmers Market and other events are held on that land and a group of neighbors are calling on the city to step up and buy the properties before it’s too late.

“There’s a real sense of community here,” resident Kelley Gallagher said.

“We need a social spot; we need a social space where we don't have to spend $12 for a cocktail,” resident Coy McKinney said.

During the Friday night market, the atmosphere is electric.

A group of concerned neighbors say they're banning together and urging city leaders to take action and preserve the space.

“A lot of kids come out here, they play around here,” McKinney said.

McKinney said they recently learned the plots of land at M and 4th streets were up for sale. He said that puts the future of important community events like the farmers market in jeopardy.

“We’ve also had different fairs here. The D.C. state fair here two years in a row,” he said. “We had the 202 Creates Festival here. We had a food truck festival. So, it’s like, it’s a space for the community to gather.”

The property is an attractive investment for developers thanks to easy Metro access.

Neighbors say losing the space would leave a giant void in the community.

“These spaces are a place where people can come and be together, and, you know, support small businesses, and, you know, if they go away, there’s no other place identified for those small businesses to set up,” Gallagher said.

She’s also worried about the low-income families who rely on the farmers market for fresh produce – another reason they’re organizing and urging the city to buy the land and transfer ownership to a community land trust.

They’ve started a petition that’s gathered more than 700 signatures.

Next week they will hold a rally to make sure city leaders hear them.

“We’ve seen gentrification and displacement,” McKinney said.

“Just building more expensive apartments is not addressing the affordable housing crisis, and so we want to actually address the affordable housing crisis in a real way, and actually, more than that, we want to have community ownership of land so that we can determine what happens here rather than a for-profit entity,” McKinney said.

The rally will take place there June 3 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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