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"Half Street" Developments Still On Deck in Navy Yard | People

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"Half Street" Developments Still On Deck in Navy Yard
"Half Street" Developments Still On Deck in Navy Yard

It’s 10 a.m. on a Friday, and there are familiar sounds that fill the air outside of the Navy Yard Metro station stop in Southeast.  It’s the sound of wind whipping against the wood board advertisements for Half Street.  It’s the sound of an empty soda can rolling to and fro on the construction lot, clinking as it moves.  It’s the sound of a ghost town.

And it’s these sounds, these notes of nothingness, that serve as an eerie reminder that Half Street, one of the city’s biggest development projects, still has not come to fruition.

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Monument Realty’s Half Street website says it all:

“Half Street.  The Whole Experience.  It’s the buzz of neon and the burst of flashbulbs.  It’s where people want to go, and it’s where you need to be.”

These were the original dreams of Half Street, a strip of glitz and glamour, featuring a set of chic residences, state-of-the-art offices, cafes, restaurants, and shops across from Nationals Park that would collectively team up with the stadium to propel the greater Navy Yard community toward a reinvention.

But then the economy crashed, and the development and future of Half Street became a little less clear.

Now, several years after the dreams were born, it’s 2011, and those dreams remain dreams, as the two Half Street construction spaces, developed by Monument Realty and Akridge, remain relatively empty. 

“I don’t even see the construction workers actually working on the site,” Shonte Minor, a Ward 8 resident who passes Half Street daily, said.  “I’m just trying to figure out how long it’s going to take for them to develop it.”

Minor hasn’t seen construction workers because there hasn’t really been any construction---the projects are taking far longer than originally anticipated.

“Akridge I think are in a lot better position to build,” said Ken Johnson, CEO of DCRealEstate.com and Editor of the DCmud blog, when speaking of the two companies involved.  “They’re probably just waiting for the right time.  Monument, though, there are a lot of problems there, and they’ve stopped work.  They said they were building it and that they weren’t stopping…that was their public face.  Of course, it never got built.”

“(We’re) working on it,” Adam Gooch, the Vice President of Development for Akridge said.  Gooch stressed that the company isn’t ignoring the project, but acknowledged that it has been slowed by the economy.  “The market has gone through a slow down over the past couple of years.  It’s probably taking a little longer than most of us were expecting.”

Monument Realty declined to comment on their progress.

The lack of development has left locals puzzled, wondering when the dream will become a reality.

“They’re talking this big game saying they’re going to bring in lots of shops and restaurants, sounds like it can be pretty cool,” said Karl Micka-Foos who works at Nationals Park.  “Ever since the signs started going up I think there are a lot of expectations about it.  (The lack of construction) makes me really curious what’s going on…it’s kind of disappointing in that sense.”

It seems as though the neighborhood has gotten used to Half Street’s holding pattern, and are no longer holding their breath.

“I’m not really surprised,” said Randolph Williams, who lives around the corner from the empty area.  “It seems like it’s going to be that way for a long time…If I had to guess (when it would be done), I’d say 2015.”

While Williams isn’t any kind of real estate expert, the Navy Yard resident's 2015 projection might not be that far off.

“We’re targeting 2013, but it's going to take a lot of work to get there,” Gooch said of Akridge’s project.

“It’s still a bit underutilized from an office and residential point of view, and I think that will remain stable at least for probably two or three years,” Johnson said.  “I don’t see any cranes over there…(once they do build) I think you need to see more than a building or two for that neighborhood to become a happening urban center.”

“We continue to be excited about Half Street, its potential, and what it will eventually become,” Gooch said.  “It’s not on the back burner, it’s on the front of our minds.  We think it’s going to be a great place in the not too distant future.”

“No reason to sell (the Half Street developments) short,” Johnson said.  “They just need time.”

But until that time comes, until the dream is realized, “the buzz of neon” will continue to be replaced by the winds whipping against wood boards, and “the burst of flashbulbs” will be replaced by the occasional empty soda can clinking as it rolls. 

Until that time comes, locals will have to continue to wait for Half Street to become the place they all had hoped for, the place "where people want to go", the place "where you need to be".

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