Currently, the walk up Connecticut Avenue through Van Ness feels concrete-heavy and anonymous. The area lacks activated sidewalks and public spaces where neighbors can gather and meet, and the wide sidewalks and large buildings often feel barren and uninviting. However, a few new developments may change the atmosphere in the coming years.
On Saturday morning, the Coalition for Smarter Growth will be hosting a walk around the neighborhood to look at the future development sites and examine opportunities for both short- and long-term redevelopment projects. The development projects on the boards include the revamping of the University of the District of Columbia’s Student Center, which faces onto Connecticut Avenue at the Van Ness-UDC Metro station, and the possible redevelopment of the Intelsat building and Van Ness Square, which houses Pier 1 and Office Depot.
Kelly Peterson, the DC Department of Transportation’s western area transportation planner and one of the four people hosting the event, told UrbanTurf that she hopes the walk will ignite conversations within the community. “A lot of what is in Van Ness now is the result of ad hoc development over the years,” said Peterson. “We have no set agenda. We want to work with the community to determine what their priorities are.”
So, what could help? Intentional public spaces, more restaurants with sidewalk cafes that stay open in the evenings, public art exhibits and a more consistent sidewalk-scape would all increase the livability. Greening the concrete jungle is a priority both for beauty and the health of Rock Creek. Right now, UDC has a farmer’s market that helps bring residents out of their high-rise apartments once a week; perhaps there is a way to mimic that space every day, wondered Peterson.
“Van Ness is never a destination, it’s just a place you go through,” remarked Peterson.
If you have any ideas about how to change that, or are interested in hearing what others have to say, the walk starts at 10am on Saturday right outside the Van Ness Metro station.
This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/could_van_ness_be_a_walkable_neighborhood/6155.
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