Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

TramStore21: building sustainable light rail/streetcar depots

Is a European community initiative which brings together those municipalities and regional governments from across Europe that are building tram systems, to share best practices and to work to limit the use of fossil fuels in the creation and maintenance of support facilities. (E.g., the depot in Lyon has solar powered electrical generation from the roof and is using a kind of geothermal system to heat the facility, but using treated wastewater, which has a constant temperature).

This is particularly interesting given Ward 7 opposition to the placement of a streetcar depot nearby neighborhoods south of Benning Road. See "D.C. trolley car barn angers Kingman Park residents" from the Washington Post.

But also because Washington, DC has many examples of streetcar depots still extant, although all but one are now used for other purposes, while the 14th Street NW facility is a bus garage, although the DC Office of Planning believes it can be repurposed for real estate development.

- Blue Castle at 8th and M Streets SE (DC Mud article)
- Trolley barn converted into housing on the 1400 block of E. Capitol St. NE
- Georgetown Park Mall
- "Trolley Barn" building in Georgetown (owned by Douglas Development, rented out in part to Georgetown U)
- Upper 14th Street bus garage (Upper 14th Street NW Revitalization Study)

Interestingly, if you look at Census enumeration sheets from the 1890s to the 1920s, a significant number of Greater H Street residents were employed by the streetcar system (or the railroad), because 15th and H was a major staging point for streetcars, including a trolley barn that was extant into the 1970s (the location of the current Pentacle Apartments).

There is no reason why presence of the streetcar garage couldn't be leveraged as a jobs initiative for people in the area as well, with a nice building.
Streetcar barn, 15th and H Streets NE, Washington, DC
This streetcar barn at 15th and H Streets NE, Washington, DC, was torn down in the 1970s and replaced with garden style apartments. Condominiums in a similar building on East Capitol Street NE are significantly more costly. HABS photo/Library of Congress.

The Car Barn Condominiums (historically known as the East Capitol Street Car Barn or Metropolitan Railroad Company Car Barn) located at 1400 East Capitol Street, NE in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Designed by local architect Waddy Butler Wood in 1896, the building is an example of Romanesque architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wikipedia photo by AgnosticPreachersKid.

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