4th & M


The lots at 425 and 375 M Street SW have become two important parcels to the Southwest community. The lot at 425 M Street has been used to host a weekly farmers market and the city's only night flea market, twice a month, during the spring, summer, and early fall.

The lots have been scheduled for development but Southwest residents have put up a fight to try to reclaim to collectively own and steward the parcels. Below, you will find a timeline of what has transpired since the lots were up for sale in May 2022 and the history of the parcel going back to the early 2000s.

If you would like to be included in a Google Group to stay up to date with what's going on with 4th & M, email us swdcaction@gmail.com. 

timeline of events since may 2022:

Here's what's been done so far:

- On May 10th: petition was launched and press release was sent out.

- May 16th: two at-large candidates are asked about petition (link).

- May 27th: petition featured in NBC Washington coverage.

- May 31st: interview on effort on 89.3FM (link).

- June 3rd: public rally held in west lot.

- Post-rally public release sent (link).

- June 6th: written up in Washington Informer (link).

- June 24th: Mayor was asked about petition on Politics Hour (link - near the 16 minute mark).

- June 29th: petition and signatures were delivered to Mayor with corresponding press release.

- July 1st: Southwester writes article on effort (link).

- July 11th: Chairman Mendelson is asked about effort (link).

- August 9th: Meeting with Mendelson to talk about petition (link).

- September 8th: meeting with Director of Real Estate, Sarosh Olpadwala (link to video).

- November 8th: Pamela McKinney talks about effort on WPFW 89.3 (link to segment, around the 28 minute mark)

- March 22, 2023: DC Department of Parks and Recreation has $3.5M to complete the design and begin construction of the first phase of Town Center Parks, which will include space for a "multipurpose area to host a farmers’ market, craft fair, holiday festival, and pop-up commerce" (link to full request for proposals).

- April 3, 2023: The Mayor attends Southwest Neighborhood Assembly monthly meeting and is asked about 4th & M. She responds by saying there is money to purchase one of the lots and that she's willing to meet with advocates (click to listen to full 4 minute clip).

- April 10th, 2023: Meeting with the Mayor has been confirmed for early May.

- April 19th, 2023: Press release regarding meeting with Mayor and Town Center Parks (link).

- May 4, 2023: Meeting with Mayor, Director of Office of Planning, Interim Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, Interim and Deputy Directors of the Department of Housing and Community Development about 4th & M (link to presentation given).

- September 5, 2023: Bisnow writes article How Two Long-Delayed Southwest Parcels Have Taken Center Stage In D.C.'s Battle For Land Ownership (free version link) 

May 2023

On May 4th, Ginger Rumph, of the Douglass CLT, and Coy McKinney, of SW Action, met with Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Director of the Office of Planning, the Interim and Deputy directors of the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Interim Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development. We hope this is the first of several meetings to bring collective ownership and community-driven development to the two parcels. The Mayor expressed interest in potentially purchasing the two parcels and having them be a Build First site for the redevelopment of Greenleaf Gardens public housing. The Mayor did not say she would transfer ownership to the Douglass CLT, but we are still hopeful we can change her mind through additional advocacy through future meetings.

MARCH 2023

The DC Department of Parks and Recreation has $3.5M to complete the design of and begin construction for the first phase of "Town Center Parks," a plan that first originated in 2019 (you can view the full request for proposals here). The area directly to the east of the entrance to Westminster Presbyterian Church on 4th Street will, "provide café seating, terraced seating, an event stage, and public art display," while the area to the west of the entrance to Christ United Methodist Church will, "provide a multipurpose area to host a farmers’ market, craft fair, holiday festival, and pop-up commerce. The Eastern site shall also include café seating and terraced seating."

While it is good news that there will potentially be a new space for the farmer's market and other leisure activities, there is still the question of whether 598 units, in which 8% will be affordable, is the best use of the space, and if that land should be corporately-owned or owned and controlled by the community.

JUNE 2022

On Wednesday, June 29th, activists belonging to the groups SW Action, and Ward 3 Housing Justice, delivered a petition, containing nearly 1,000 signatures to the Mayor Muriel Bowser, calling on her to purchase two lots for sale in Southwest, D.C. and transfer ownership to the Douglass Community Land Trust. 

On June 24th, 2022, while on the Politics Hour radio show with Kojo Nnamdi, the Mayor was asked whether she would support the petition, to which she replied “I’ll certainly review it.” Later that day, a meeting request with the Mayor was made via her website. When the activists delivered the petition on the 29th, they reiterated their call for a meeting with the Mayor. The activists hope that the Mayor and other elected and government officials will act on this unique opportunity for residents to collectively own and steward land in the city.

Basic Facts on 4th & M

History of 4th & M Street SW

4th & M Street SW is one of the central intersections for the SW neighborhood. Since 2012, it has become a very important community gathering space. This piece details its history:

History of 4th & M Street SW

The video to the left is an edited clip of SW residents, Coy and Pamela McKinney, testifying at the Zoning Commission on May 10, 2018 in regards to the project planned for 4th & M Street SW.

The clip also includes the Chairman of the DC Zoning Commission, Anthony Hood, talking about the dearth of truly affordable housing projects in the city and how the more housing he sees, "the more prices go up."

legal brief - DC Court of Appeals

December 23, 2019: Six residents filed their brief to DC Court of Appeals, requesting the decision of the Zoning Commission to approve the proposed development at 4th and M Street be vacated. The petitioners rely on case law and planning documents to argue that the plan does not fulfill goals of the current Comprehensive Plan and the SW Neighborhood Plan, in particular.

Petitioners also argue that the loss of health-promoting and cultural assets due to the SW Farmer's Market and Friday night arts market constitute adverse effects that the Commission failed to consider despite its statutory obligations to do so. Data on gentrification, threats to neighborhood diversity, and the impact of a minimum number of affordable units are discussed at length. Based on new, comparable units in Southwest and surrounding communities, rents are likely to reach well beyond $2,000 for studios and one-bedrooms.

To read the full 50-page brief, click here: 4th & M Brief.

The Southwester: Local Activists Appeal Developments At 4TH & M

The January 2020 issue of The Southwester includes an article about the press conference held on December 16th regarding the development at 4th & M.

The Southwester: Local Activists Appeal Developments At 4TH & M 

2019 4th & M flyer

4th & M Press Conference (Dec. 16, 2019)

This is the audio/video from the press conference that was held by Pro se petitioners, who are challenging the planned development at 4th & M Street SW.

Dec. 9, 2019 Press Release - 4th & M Street SW

This is a press release for a press conference that will be occurring on Monday, December 16th, at 6pm across the street from the Waterfront Metro. The press conference is being organized by a group of SW residents who oppose the project planned for 4th & M Street on the grounds that it does not meet the goals of the Southwest Neighborhood Plan (which you can read on our Resources page).

Link to Press Release.