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Thousands of Federal Employees Coming to Southeast D.C. | News

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Thousands of Federal Employees Coming to Southeast D.C.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- By the end of summer thousands of federal employees working for the Homeland Security department will be moving behind a massive wall into a compound in Southeast DC, on what used to be the west campus of Saint Elizabeth Mental Hospital.

In any other part of town the move might be considered a godsend by local merchants and retailers; but there are few such businesses in the area known as Anacostia, one of the district's poorest areas with the highest unemployment.

Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry fears the new federal workers will remain behind the wall, afraid to venture out beyond the nearby metro and Martin Luther King avenue.

To lure them out for lunch time meals, happy hour or morning breakfast even, D.C. officials know they'll need immediate new development.

On Wednesday they announced that across MLK on the other St. Elizabeth campus, a $15 million East Gateway Pavilion will be built and "Pop Up" retailers will be invited in, these would be eateries like Starbucks, Pot Belly and the like.

Food trucks will also be included. There will be open spaces, casual diners and more.

City Officials and private leaders concede luring enterprise with big upfront dollars would be difficult.  Given the uncertainties, allowing them to test the markets makes the most sense all around.

Mayor Gray says no Pop Up retailer has signed up thus far but there are interested.

The East Gateway Pavilion would bring jobs, especially a lot for area residents.

The plans calls for Pop Ups to lease space at East Gateway for one dollar per month for six months to "test" the market. 

The hopes are that permanent business will emerge bringing permanent jobs for Anacostia.