Housing Complex

Want to Make the Anacostia Metro Station Greener? Build Something.

So this morning, Mayor Vince Gray and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an initiative to enhance the landscaping and pedestrian experience around the Anacostia metro station. That's great. It's one of the most confusing and hard-to-get-to stations in the whole system, garlanded by intersections, and could sure use some upgrades.

But the bigger problem with that area isn't sidewalks or street trees. Rather, it's the absence of any significant commercial, office, or residential development within a quarter-mile radius, which is the magic number for destinations to fall within walking distance. The primary uses in direct proximity to the Metro station are schools and churches, which are only in use for limited periods. Most of the land is just empty, including a grassy field across Howard Road that's owned by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and four acres kitty corner from the station bought by Bethlehem Baptist Church in 2002 and never developed. The latter was even identified in a 2004 Office of Planning study, approved by the Council, as "the most promising site for early development," able to handle 230-250 residential units and 11,000-15,000 square feet of retail.

According to local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner William Ellis, WMATA contemplated buying the church site in 2009 for a new headquarters building, but never followed through. He hasn't heard any rumblings from the church about developing its vacant land (which is, at least, current on its property taxes).

Now, I realize the difficulty of luring developers East of the River. But if the feds and the District are serious about improving the environmental qualities of that area, they should buy it and build housing there themselves. Even if the funds don't exist to do that, it's bizarre to not even mention the nonexistent density around that site in a whole media event around greening the station.

Comments

  1. #1

    A new WMATA HQ there would be a dream, especially if there's any way to build more residential there, too. The best part, though, would be freeing up the current HQ on 6th NW for redevelopment - a little ironic right now that the transit agency's HQ is what's killing that block.

  2. #2

    Granted, the WMATA headquarters isn't the prettiest building in the world, but "killing the block" isn't exactly the how I'd describe it.

  3. #3

    Yeah, Lydia. You should lower your expectations.

  4. Amanda brookefield
    #4

    they should build there
    dc needs more new stuff
    out with the old bring in the new
    http://ethicalfutures.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/this-dont-make-no-sensebrawl-in-the-streets-of-stl-st-louis-knockout/

  5. #5

    "Even if the funds don't exist to do that, it's bizarre to not even mention the nonexistent density around that site in a whole media event around greening the station."

    What's equally bizarre is to not mention the reason people won't build there. It's because of crime and social policies that Ward 8 embraces every time they re-elect Marion Barry.

    Sugar coating that and pretending it doesn't exist and isn't a factor does a disservice to everyone. Most damaging to the decent people of Anacostia.

  6. #6

    Aesthetics have nothing to do with it. By block-killing, I mean there's no retail there - there's no reason to walk on that part of F or 6th, and so it's much more dead than other nearby blocks. North of G, there's all kinds of retail on 6th, but between F and G, the only thing is Greene Turtle. Same for F west of 6th vs. east. If the WMATA HQ gets redeveloped with ground floor retail, it'll enliven that block to be more in tune to the rest of the blocks surrounding the Verizon Center.

  7. #7

    Oh Lydia. Never met a development proposal she just didn't love. Here's the thing that neither she nor so many blogs like dcist and GGW don't realize: people move to cities (excuse me -- MOVED) because they're attractive, because of their historical nature and buildings and scale and diversity, and superior architecture.

    What does Lydia know about green cities and energy and tearing down and building up? Seriously. Let's have some numbers there madam. Numbahs! Let's break it down.

    What she says just doesn't make much sense. Development for development. Yawn.

  8. #8

    This is really a great site to exploit, since it could rely on the architecture of historic Anacostia - without destroying it - and still pack a high density around the metro station.

  9. #9

    You're right architect!

    Wave that ole magic wand!

    Poof! It's done!

    I love city planning in the time of technology. So darn easy.

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