Housing Complex

Could Poplar Point or Benning Road Look Like Brooklyn Bridge Park?

Someday. (Brooklyn Bridge Park)

I'm usually not one to engage in "I wish X looked like Y" thinking. As helpful as it can be to imagine an unsatisfactory status quo as something wholly different, that's not much use if there's no feasible way to make it so.

But the vision offered by Brooklyn Bridge Park, which only a few years ago was a Port Authority shipping depot, is too inspiring not to offer as the kind of route I'd like the Anacostia waterfront to take in the decades ahead. Kicked into action by a 2002 memorandum of understanding that committed funding for the area's transformation, over the last few years it's developed into an astonishing blend of commerce and recreation. The still-developing park, managed by a non-profit, packs restaurants, play areas, and public art into a relatively small area (though it's planned to encompass 20 acres by the time it's done).

Outside of the stunning Yards Park, and the tremendously exciting Wharf, it's hard to see that kind of model advancing on the other side of the river in the near future. The other planned waterfront-proximate projects get the need to connect the city to the river—the current plans for Hill East and Poplar Point, as well as a Cohen Companies project on Virginia Avenue—state that as a goal. But the first two are quite far in the future, with no financing on the horizon. The rest of the waterfront, sadly, is either private industrial land or owned by the National Park Service or the military, severely limiting its redevelopment possibilities, barring some federal change of heart.

Yeah, I wish the area around Benning Road bridge could be the next DUMBO. Realistically, though, there are a lot of other projects—most of them in other cities—ahead in line.

  • Paul

    DC is not as starved for park space as NYC. Why build a massive park where few live when so many of the urban squares and pocket parks are neglected and not realizing even 20% of their potential.

    I'd be fine with expecting a proposed mixed use development on Poplar Point to integrate parkland. But building the entire thing into a park is just a boondoggle.

  • http://alexblock.net Alex B.

    I think the Yards Park has that kind of potential as that development fills in and the riverwalk is extended, connecting the Yards Park to Diamond Teague.

    When all is said and done, the area around the Yards will have that same high level of activity and programming. With the addition of the bridge to Diamond Teague, you'll gain the connection downstream towards future riverfront redevelopment at Buzzard Point.

  • ladida

    someone should build a velodrome for track cycling in Anacostia. That would attract all the cyclists in the area to a neighborhood we all avoid at all costs right now.