Placemaking Proposed for DC’s Prather’s Alley

by Nena Perry-Brown

Last year, DC-based architecture firm EL Studio and planning consultancy urbanSEED explored what people would like to see in their alleys and the Mount Vernon Triangle (MVT) Community Improvement District (CID) was taking inventory and planning the future of the neighborhood's outdoor public spaces. Now, the three are teaming up to tackle Prather's Alley. 

Prather's Alley, at center. Click to enlarge.

Prather's Alley runs interior to 4th and 5th Streets between Eye and K Streets NW (map). The alley is primarily used for loading now, although it was at one time a thriving commercial and residential corridor with horse stables, before housing the city's largest bakery and a milk bottling plant in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

"As Mount Vernon Triangle has grown denser and more populated, so has the amount of foot, bicycle and motorized traffic through our alleys," MVT CID president and CEO Kenyattah Robinson explains. "As a result, underutilized infrastructure historically perceived as unsafe and unsanitary places that are best avoided have been transformed into viable travel alternatives for pedestrians and vehicles alike."

Alley schematic. Click to enlarge.

Consequently, the CID, urbanSEED and EL Studio are soliciting community input to conceptualize improvements to Prather's Alley. A study conducted last year found that 82 percent of respondents used the alley at least once a week, typically as a pedestrian shortcut. As for what people would most like to see in the alley, a mural and specialized lighting were virtually tied in first place. 63 percent of respondents found additional lighting to be the most important improvement needed; color/art, traffic calming and greening were next.

The CID, urbanSEED and EL Studio will take the feedback they have gathered from the survey and a community meeting to put together a design concept to present to the community this spring, in hopes of applying for a grant from the Commission of Arts and Humanities in May. Work could begin on improvements to Prather's Alley by the end of the year.

All images courtesy of EL Studio. This article previously omitted and incorrectly stylized urbanSEED's name; that, as well as urbanSEED's role in the partnership, has been corrected.

See other articles related to: prather's alley, mount vernon triangle, alleys

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/mvt-cid-proposes-placemaking-for-prathers-alley/14949

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