Chris VanArsdale, Executive Director of the Canal Park Development Association (CPDA), says work will likely begin on the site by "late July or early August," notwithstanding the fact that permits have not been issued and a general contractor has not yet been selected. VanArsdale says the CPDA issued a Request for Qualifications for the construction work, followed by a Request for Proposals, and is now waiting for those responses. Completion is expected in late 2011.
Each park block will have a distinctive design, with a shaded boardwalk that runs the length. Green features include a linear "rain garden," combination of large and small open spaces, three pavilions, an urban plaza, and prominent water features like ponds, fountains and seasonal ice rink. The rain garden will act as an on-site water collection, treating and reusing stormwater runoff. The open green space between K and I Streets could be used for movies or concerts, with seating room for 500 and standing room for 1,200 accommodated by a sunken amphitheater. A two-level pavilion (pictured above) will serve as an observation area and cafe with outdoor seating.
Canal Park replaces what was once bus and car lot, and more recently a Kansas-flat strip of lawn. Development of the land into a green space, first conceived in 2000, has been stymied by changing control. The land was first given to the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, which drew up plans for a park, but the AWC was disbanded by the government and not until May of 2008 did DC transfer development rights to the CPDA. The CPDA then started anew by replacing the design team with Philadelphia-based OLIN; Studios Architecture designed the pavilions. While the feds still technically own the land, the District controls the property by way of a "jurisdictional transfer," which VanArsdale says gives the federal government a right to redeem the land, which it "rarely, if ever" does. The CPDA has a 20-year license to develop and maintain the park; the District will pick up most ($13.5m) of the $15m in construction costs for the project.
The National Capitol Planning Commission gave an initial approval to the plan in October of 2009, and gave final approval in June. The canal that once ran across the site connected the Anacostia to Tiber Creek (now buried under Constitution Avenue), which ran to the C&O canal.
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