A new effort on the boards in DC's Capitol Riverfront aims to make good use of some underutilized public space in the neighborhood.
The Underpass and Virginia Avenue Public Space Vision Plan, spearheaded by the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, proposes a variety of changes, particularly to the 2nd Street, 3rd Street, 4th Street, 7th Street, 8th Street and New Jersey Avenue underpasses along I-695.
While projects in the proposal are largely comprised of aesthetic changes and art installations, such as a cultural storytelling mural along the 4th Street underpass, others are more ambitious. The plan for the 2nd Street underpass calls for a basketball court, pickleball courts with stadium seating, a skate park, a stage for community events and an inviting entryway into Garfield Park.
Other aspects in the proposal include three-dimensional windmill-powered sculptures, solar panels, updated stormwater management systems, freeway sound barriers, LED light art, bike paths, a bicycle repair station, playground equipment and an opportunity for urban farming.
To complete all of the projects over the next decade, the BID is seeking $5 million from public and private stakeholders.
“Starting this fall, we will identify one or two major projects that we want to pursue in the coming year,” Ted Jutras VP of Planning and Development for the Capitol Riverfront BID said. "The goal is to do one or two projects each year." Small steps are already taking place. Last weekend, the BID kicked off the project with short-term improvements at Emblem Plaza prior to a full redesign, which Jutras said should be complete next spring.
The NoMa BID faced backlash from community members in 2019 after displacing people at an encampment by instituting a similar project at the M Street NE underpass. The Capitol Riverfront BID plans to address this concern by "finding long-term housing solutions for unhoused persons" and coordinating with other area stakeholders, according to the proposal.
Ultimately, Jutras said he hopes that the projects will "draw new eyes and new people down to the neighborhood."
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/capitol-riverfront-proposes-plan-to-revitalize-public-spaces/19939.
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