25 Pet-Friendly Units — A Hypothetical Pitch to Save Columbia Heights Dog Park

  • May 27th 2021

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Dog park, courtesy of Google Streetview. Click to enlarge.

In 2018, news broke that the de facto Columbia Heights dog park at 11th Street and Park Road NW (map) was imperiled. 

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.

Aerial rendering of proposal. Click to enlarge.

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.

View from 11th and Park. Click to enlarge.

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.

View from Park Road. Click to enlarge.

"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.

See other articles related to: columbia heights, dog park, 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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