D.C. looks for groups to transform two vacant sites into urban farms

By Andrew Giambrone posted October 19th, 2018 on dc.curbed.com

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The District is searching for organizations to create and run urban farms at two locations in Kingman Park and Brightwood Park. Totaling more than 20,000 square feet, the parcels are currently vacant. Once redeveloped, they would be managed through D.C.’s Urban Farming Land Lease Program, which was established to foster a sustainable system for locally grown food. The D.C. Department of General Services (DGS) recently put out a solicitation for bids.

“The Department reserves the right to make multiple awards to different applicants for sub-areas within each Site, however no such subarea will be less than 2,500 square feet,” notes DGS in its request for proposals. The Brightwood Park site is situated on an (unnamed) alley between 9th and 8th streets NW, near Longfellow Street NW, while the Kingman Park site is located in the 600 block of Kramer Street NE between 16th and 17th streets NE. Applicants must have “experience in agricultural production,” per DGS, and responses are due Nov. 21.

The opportunity arises as urban farms are becoming more popular across D.C., particularly in underserved areas where traditional grocery stores are lacking—areas commonly known as “food deserts.” Other major cities like New York are also seeing an uptick in urban farms.

Proposals for the Kingman Park and Brightwood Park sites will be scored based on their expected costs, timelines, designs, and community benefits, among other factors, says DGS. The winning groups will be awarded leases of five years that may include renewal options for up to 13 years. DGS says it will grant such leases only after the winners have submitted the results of soil testing and those results are “lower than the recommended maximum” levels for various substances—such as lead—set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Kingman Park site preliminarily “tested high for levels of Arsenic,” DGS points out, so raised soil beds or soil remediation will be necessary there. The leases will not involve rent payments, but the tenants would be responsible for covering “all operational costs” for the sites, including utilities. No utilities are connected to the sites currently, according to DGS.

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