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“It was just the most amazing neighborhood institution,” she said. “It’s plants, but it’s also the whole store. Everyone was there to help and say thank you when you were leaving.”

The hope is to keep the pop-up garden center open and add other services over time, officials said.

While some wrinkles still need to be ironed out, D.C. Department of General Services Director Brian J. Hanlon said the garden center could stay open anywhere from six weeks to nine months.

A longtime Frager's customer herself, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton drew parallels between the Frager's fire and the three-alarm fire that gutted the East Hall of Eastern Market in 2007, displacing merchants until the city rebuilt the historic landmark and reopened it six months later.

“Now to see another beloved institution burn, it hits you in the heart and the gut at the same time,” she said. “John Weintraub had some insurance, and that’s his responsibility. But when you become a neighborhood institution, the responsibility must be shared.”