Photo by Judith Beermann
Ben Miller outside The Powerhouse
Ben Miller outside The Powerhouse

The Powerhouse (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The Powerhouse

You know the building. Ivy up and down the red brick exterior, enormous arched windows, outdoor patio, tall white smokestack, down the steps from the rear of Dean & Deluca. It's The Powerhouse, an historic warehouse in Georgetown along the C&O Canal. Western Development Corporation had their offices there until about two months ago.

Now it’s empty though if you’re going to ReadysetDC this Thursday, you’ll have a chance to see the spectacular interior: 8,000 square feet of space on three floors.

Its owners, Daniel and Benjamin Miller, branched out on their own (from Western Development) in 2010 forming WestMill Capital to focus on retail-entertainment and mixed-use development in Washington,D.C. Buildings like this one gave them an idea.

Lustine Realty Co. on 14th Street ready to be 'Popularised' (Photo by: WestMill Capital) Lustine Realty Co. on 14th Street ready to be 'Popularised'

“Why is real estate so opaque?” Ben Miller asked rhetorically.  In the past, he explained, “The perception was that the community will fight you. But there’s been a paradigm shift." When they bought a building on H Street, they decided to open a dialogue about what to do with the space with … well, everyone.

Almost immediately they got over 2,000 ideas, many from existing business owners nearby. The third most popular idea was turn the place into a bagel shop. Turns out, a popular nearby pizzeria realized their 900 degree oven is much cooler in the mornings, the perfect temperature and time of day when it's available ... to make bagels!

Ben Miller inside The Powerhouse (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Ben Miller inside The Powerhouse

These community ideas are being collected through Popularise, “an online platform using crowdsourcing (outsourcing a task or problem to an undefined public) that shares power to build new places in neighborhoods with local residents.” It’s also a modern research and planning tool, “to get a lot of data, marketing presence, and good will.”

How often have you thought, "Why doesn't someone turn that vacant building down the street into a bakery, bar, or restaurant?" Ben is enthusiastic that through direct involvement, neighborhoods can be transformed by the people who live there, rather than waiting for someone to step in and do it.

Their vision? “Over time, we change what becomes possible by energizing the majority.”

Take a look at a series of photos of The Powerhouse by clicking on this photo below.

What do you think The Powerhouse should be?

0 Comments For This Article


Nike should be there.


Trader Joes


A high end restaurant and bar.


It's tough because it is off the beaten path. Some kind of restaurant and night club because there is so much space and it is kind of secluded. The inside needs to be completely gutted though.