"This is the project that will project the District of Columbia forward from the standpoint of renovating, modernizing, accentuating, bringing to life, and restoring this great neighborhood adjacent to the Anacostia River," said Fenty from inside the vacant warehouse that will soon house the Yards' Boilermaker Shops.
Simply dubbed The Park at the Yards, the 5.5 acre park is being designed by New York-based landscape architects M. Paul Friedberg and Partners and was touted by Ward 6 City Councilman, Tommy Wells, as the new “front porch” for the Southeast Waterfront. If that is indeed the case, the park seems to be more country club terrace than whittling stoop - the plans currently on-hand call for “well-landscaped ‘outdoor rooms’ with seating areas,” “a riverfront courtyard” that will feature retail and dining on three sides, “a water feature” in tribute to the Washington Canal, “a great lawn” that could potentially host live entertainment and “a scenic esplanade” that will connect foot traffic to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Forest City is also in talks to bring a marina to the site as well. The Mayor equated the park to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Chicago’s Millennium Park, as a draw for local residents and tourists alike “for generations to come.”
“It’s a great amenity for the city. It’s welcoming to families. It’s welcoming to children. It will be welcoming not just our residents, but to everyone in Ward 6 and throughout the District who come,” said Deborah Ratner Salzberg, President of Forest City Washington. “It will be a true world-class location…to eat, play and just to relax and have fun.”The Park represents a unique facet of development at the Yards, in more than one regard. First and foremost, it is the product of a public-private partnership between Forest City and the District, which teamed-up to secure the federally-owned parcel from the General Services Administration (the terms of that deal were not disclosed).
Secondly, it was financed through a Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) initiative, described by the Mayor’s office as “the District…selling a bond against future taxes…generated by the surrounding development.” Ahh, the 'generations to come' will be the ones paying for it. Thirdly, after Forest City completes construction, all maintenance and programming of the park will be turned over to the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (BID). The BID’s Executive Director, Michael Stevens, characterized their involvement as including everything from planting flowers to plowing snow.
Construction is planned to begin this January, the developer hopes to have the park open in time for the Nationals’ 2010 opener (a sentiment most certainly shared by DC and Nats' higher-ups). The Park at the Yards is the second such space planned for the immediate waterfront area (the other being Diamond Teague Park to the west) and the capstone to Forest City’s plans for 2,800 condos/apartments, 1.8 million square feet of office space and 400,000 square feet of retail at the Yards.
“This is going to be one of the greatest places in America to live,” said Councilman Wells.