When Benjamin and Daniel Miller talk about "investing in one's community," they're not just speaking metaphorically. As the founders of Fundrise, these brothers mean that quite literally. Fundrise and its partner site Popularise allow individuals to do what's ordinarily controlled by big development firms; not only do they allow the community to have a say about what kinds of businesses it wants to fill its vacant buildings, but Fundrise actually allows individuals to own a little piece of it, too. (Because, no, this town definitely doesn't need another Subway...)
Fundrise's concept is so rad, in fact, your very own Scoutmob editor invested in the first project that's currently under development on H Street. Dubbed Maketto and located at 1351 H St., NE, the newly rehabilitated building will house businesses from two of DC's most awesome innovators: Toki Underground and DURKL.
Of course, the Fundrise team hasn't stopped there. Today, they're helping to develop a few more spaces on H Street, including the strip of property that's currently home to an AutoZone, as well as the building at 906 H Street (a favorite of theirs, as you'll see below). For more information (and, perhaps, to make an investment yourself), check out Fundrise's website, Facebook and follow the team on Twitter. We know we will.
In the meantime, we asked the Fundrise crew to name their favorite vacant buildings/spaces in DC, as well as tell us what the future may hold for them. But be forewarned: the future looks pretty bright, so you may want to slip on your shades.
The Franklin School
13th and K Streets, NW
Photo by Adolf Cluss
Why They Love It: "This city-owned property is beautiful, historic (it’s the site of Alexander Graham Bell’s first wireless communication in 1880) and in a busy downtown neighborhood."
What the Future Could Hold: "The Franklin School would make an amazing boutique hotel (something like Soho House in New York), with a vibrant restaurant and bar or other nightspot on the ground floor. It’s unique, underused and has great potential."
Uline Arena / Washington Coliseum
1140 3rd St., NE
Why They Love It: "The Uline Arena is best known for being the venue where The Beatles played their first U.S. show in front of more than 8,000 fans in 1964. The arena, located in a neighborhood that once had the awesome name of Swampoodle, also hosted the Washington Lions hockey team and the Capitols basketball team."
What the Future Will Hold: "Developer Doug Jemal has plans to turn it into retail and office space. Because of the location and size, its redevelopment could be pivotal for the neighborhood and provide residents many new services and amenities."
3255 Grace St., NW
Why They Love It: "The Powerhouse is in the heart of Georgetown, between the waterfront and the M Street shopping corridor, and overlooks the C&O Canal. But it’s unlike most other properties in the city because of its industrial nature and history. It was constructed in 1917 by the D.C. Paper Manufacturing Company as a powerhouse and later used as a storeroom for the streetcar system."
The Future Is Now: "It’s been recently renovated and turned into a unique event space. Its proximity to one of the city’s most visited tourist areas means the Powerhouse would be a terrific spot for a premier chef-owned restaurant."
Photo by Mika Altskan
Why They Love It: "Some people don’t realize that there was once a trolley station underneath Dupont Circle. It closed in 1975, but there are still 75,000 square feet of unused space under one of DC’s busiest and most desirable areas."
What the Future May Hold: "We can’t remember who originally had this idea, but we like the concept of creating an underground Apple store, like the one on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, with a big glass box floating above in the park space between P Street and Massachusetts Avenue."
906 H St., NE
Why They Love It: Besides this being the newest public offering (just announced today!), "H Street NE continues to experience strong growth, and this 6,500 square foot, two-story building is well-located to become one of the street’s prime restaurant, retail or entertainment venues."
The Future Is Now... and Also Still in the Future: Currently an event and music space, the building is across the street from the H Street Connection shopping center, which will soon be developed into a mixed-use project with 360 rental units and 53,000 square feet of retail. H Street NE is the longest strip of retail buildings in Washington, DC, and will continue to see an influx of crowds when the trolley line opens, scheduled to happen in 2013."