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.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

11th Street Recreation Bridge proposal as another indicator of the need to update and extend the Anacostia Waterfront Plan (& upgrade parks planning)

11th Street Recreation Bridge Potential, slide from presentation
In response to the news from Washcycle that DC is considering converting one of the spans of the soon-to-be-replaced 11th Street bridges into a signature park, at GGW, Dan Malouff makes a good point in the entry "11th street "recreation bridge" would be tough to make work," that the concept as proposed by the DC Office of Planning will fail if not properly executed and programmed.

OP will be holding a meeting on March 28, 2012, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at 1100 4th Street, SW about the potential of redesigning the bridge as a park. Also see the Washington City Paper Housing Complex piece, "A High Line for the Anacostia? More Like a Ponte Vecchio."

Many of the commenters on his entry seem to think that the idea is competitive with the plans and concepts for the Anacostia Waterfront rather than complementary, integrative, and potentially transformative.

I think that the idea makes sense because it can actually integrate the north and sides of the river, whereas now most of the exciting activity, like Ballpark, or The Wharf development in Southwest DC, is on the north side.

I mentioned in a blog entry recently that the segment from Pennsylvania Avenue north to the DC border with Prince George's County, Maryland needs a comprehensive planning initiative, in this entry, "Wanted: A comprehensive plan for the "Anacostia River East" corridor."

But obviously, it's time to update the complete Anacostia Waterfront Plan, with a special focus on capturing the opportunities present on the south side of the river (people generally refer to this as "east of the river" but it's both east and south, especially in the Ballpark area), in particular Poplar Point, a large parcel with tremendous opportunity, as discussed in past entries, "Thinking really really really big for Poplar Point's park," "Navy Pier Revitalization Plans, Chicago," and "New Years post #7: Anacostia and sustainable economic development and revitalization."

This image of development activity along this segment of the Anacostia River demonstrates the need to update and extend previous comprehensive planning efforts.
Development activities, western section of the Anacostia River, from DCOP presentation

It's also an opportunity for DC to do a signature park comparable to the Millennium Park in Chicago or the High Line in New York City. Even though too many communities are looking at "how they can do a High Line," and not how to address placemaking in a more comprehensive fashion (see this past blog entry, "Step up and vision an interconnected public realm").

Likely it will have to be done by a public-private partnership, because DC agencies typically don't have the capacity and vision to pull something like that off.

But at the same time, it could be a transformative event, re-invigorating the DC Parks and Recreation agency, as well as other city agencies, and renewing the vision of the city in terms of parks, recreation, public spaces, civic assets, and the value of the public realm, not to mention the importance of "rivers" in center cities, fully in line with the testimony I gave last week on how DC's DPR doesn't have a master plan.

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