Owner WMATA began having the property marketed for sale a year later and debate intensified about its future. On one side, advocates rallied in hopes of saving the park, and on the other, proposals began floating around for a dog park-free redevelopment. Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau also sought a budget line item for the city to purchase the dog park and keep it public.
Little has happened since federal covenants were uncovered prohibiting a sale, however, and now, one local architect is proposing a compromise.
Frustrated with the absolutist debates over the years, DC-based architect Joe Iwaskiw put together a proposal of his own for the site. The plan would retain 60% of the existing dog park, add a residential development to the site, and preserve the on-site WMATA exhaust vent. The resulting development would deliver a passive house-compliant building with 25 apartments above 615 square feet of retail.
The unit mix would include 19 one-bedrooms, 4 two-bedrooms, and a three- and four-bedroom; three of the units would be affordable to households earning up to 30% of area median income. Revenue from the building would be used to improve and maintain the dog park, and the development would also include a pair of carshare spaces, bicycle storage, and a roof deck amenity.
"By each party sacrificing a little of what they want, all resources are multiplied on the site," Iwaskiw told UrbanTurf. "My hope is that this will open up a debate once again between the city and community."
The idea is that if stakeholders get on board with the proposal, there would be a call for developers to make it a reality. WMATA could sell the air rights, and the city could step in with gap financing. Iwaskiw has already put together and vetted a pro forma for the proposal.
"In all honesty, I believe architects have a different perspective on what could be, but often we are on the sidelines when it comes to those initial decisions of what to do on a site. This project is trying to reverse the typical process — propose something that is creative and feasible first, then bring partners in along the way."
Iwaskiw has also started a petition to garner support for co-locating housing with the dog park.
All renderings courtesy of Joe Iwaskiw.
NOTE: Mention of the covenants on the land was added since publication. It should also be noted that a similar proposal was previously rejected by WMATA.
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/25-pet-friendly-units-a-hypothetical-pitch-to-save-columbia-heights-dog-par/18308.
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