A Downtown Woonerf? A New Green Space Gateway for Chinatown

by Nena Perry-Brown

A Downtown Woonerf? A New Green Space Gateway for Chinatown: Figure 1
Chinatown Park

While the Chinatown neighborhood is well known for its built environment, attention is now being paid to one of its few green spaces.

Chinatown Park sits along Massachusetts Avenue NW between 5th and 6th Streets (map) and has long been utilized by those in the community, yet is poorly maintained and does not have much of a street presence. Until recently, the park was primarily used by the homeless and as a shortcut for pedestrian traffic.

Consequently, the Urban Land Institute has issued a report in partnership with the Mayor's Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments on what to do with this pocket park — plans that will include turning a portion of Eye Street into a woonerf.

A Downtown Woonerf? A New Green Space Gateway for Chinatown: Figure 2
Planned improvements to Chinatown Park

The report recommends the following improvements to Chinatown Park:

  • A "game table area" along the 6th Street frontage of the park, with chess boards and table tennis, among other games.
  • An upgraded central lawn area that also formalizes the path that pedestrians have worn through the site.
  • A circular plaza space at the corner fronting 5th Street that celebrates the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and culture, with an obelisk or other place-making artistic or architectural element at the center. 
  • Converting the block of Eye Street along the park into a mixed-transportation woonerf that quells the amount of vehicular traffic on the street. This will also encourage the community to close the block to traffic during events, with a recurring market as a recommendation.

As seen in the above maps, Chinatown Park sits diagonally from Milian Park and across from two other smaller triangular green parcels, creating what is referred to as a "bowtie" at the intersection. The report also recommends that a Friends of Chinatown and Milian Parks organization be created to spearhead and fund efforts to program and maintain the sites. The bowtie is also on the border of the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood and across the street from the planned SLS Lux Hotel.

See other articles related to: woonerf, parks, park, chinatown park

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a-new-green-space-gateway-for-chinatown/13812

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