Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Canal Park Plans its Debut in Southeast

DC's Capitol Riverfront neighborhood near the ballpark may have its skeptics, but it remains the only neighborhood with a riverfront presence, and now may add to its credentials the most active public urban design in the city. Having heretofore suffered the indignity of lacking a real park despite ample vacant land, planners expect to start work within a month on Canal Park, a 3-block, 2-acre stretch of parkland that juts north from M Street. The city is just putting the finishing touches on its waterfront park as well.

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 Washington DC real estate development journalgeneral 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 Washington DC retail for leasebus 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. Washington DC commercial real estate database 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. 

Washington DC real estate development news


Anonymous said...

this is going to be an amazing place when its done. What a shame that its taken this long to develop the waterfront.

IMGoph on Jul 14, 2010, 4:40:00 PM said...

can you explain what you mean by "the only neighborhood with a riverfront presence"?

i think it would be very safe to argue that river terrace and georgetown are both DC neighborhoods with a riverfront presence as well.

Ken on Jul 14, 2010, 6:23:00 PM said...


I was seriously waiting for you to write with that comment. I considered Georgetown, which I more than occasionally frequent, but Georgetown Harbor is a bit removed from Georgetown proper. Sure, you could argue both ways, and I'll defer to those who disagree. But until recently there was just an immense parking lot along the water, I always felt little connection to the water there, you have to tread over private property to get to it. Southeast has a ways to go yet, but the potential is there, and work to connect to it is pretty serious.

Deanwoodenizen on Jul 14, 2010, 9:31:00 PM said...

Ken, IMGoph said River Terrace NOT Anacostia. River Terrace is in NE, specifically Ward 7 off Benning Rd between Anacostia Ave and 36th St NE. Per Wikipedia [The neighborhood is] "...adjacent to River Terrace Park — a national park made up of a section of the eastern bank of the Anacostia River."

Ken on Jul 15, 2010, 6:22:00 AM said...

Deanwoodian: I'm confused, having not mentioned Anacostia. If you think River Terrace has a vibrant waterfront, fine, but I see nothing but parkland there. Sure, lots of neighborhoods touch the river, I'll give you that, but I was talking about neighborhoods that have a commercial waterfront presence.

IMGoph on Jul 15, 2010, 7:14:00 AM said...

ken: i think you're wiggling a bit here, but that's ok.

you didn't make it clear what you meant by "presence" in the original article. now you've said "commercial waterfront presence." that's a lot more specific, and i'll give you that river terrace doesn't have a commercial presence on the water. had you given that qualifier in the first place, your phrasing would have made more sense.

Anonymous said...

yeah, so'll be a great project, and a welcome significant public space.

Anonymous said...

"DC's Capitol Riverfront neighborhood ... remains the only neighborhood with a riverfront presence"

"Ahem" says this resident of Southwest! It will be nicer after whatever big redevelopment that's planned gets going, but currently you can eat dinner on a deck over the water at Cantina Marina, go play on the water with the community sailing association, live on the water at the gangplank marina, eat dinner overloooking it at Jenny's, hang out in the park along it, which is the unofficial doggie play area, further over towards N and O streets. Even if you don't want to count the giganto club/tourist conglomerates of Phillips, Zanzibar and the cruise ships (which I agree don't really do anything for residents), there's plenty of life along there on a summer evening.

Ken on Aug 23, 2010, 5:32:00 AM said...

Okay, I hereby amend the article. It should have read: DC has lots of neighborhoods that incorporate the waterfront, this is just one more. In fact, DC is so connected to the waterfront its often called "the Venice of America".

Thank you.

IMGoph on Aug 23, 2010, 6:10:00 AM said...

hey man, don't crack up on us. there's nothing wrong with admitting you were wrong and making a correction. it's better than peddling misinformation. corrections help make bloggers unassailable.

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