Housing Complex

Can Mount Vernon Triangle Replicate Capitol Riverfront’s Successes?

The Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District has a new director. Claire Schaefer Oleksiak, who's served as deputy executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District for the past six years, takes over for Bill McLeod, who started as executive director of Historic Dupont Circle Main Street on July 1.

It's a fitting move. In building up a new neighborhood essentially from the ground, Capitol Riverfront has focused on creating great public spaces, and in the process has put itself on the map for people across the District as a destination for parks, restaurants, and events. Mount Vernon Triangle is another basically new neighborhood; where Capitol Riverfront was built largely on old Navy Yard land and the redevelopment of a crumbling public housing complex, Mount Vernon Triangle is full of cranes putting new apartment and office buildings where surface parking lots once dominated. But Mount Vernon Triangle has been a step behind on creating neighborhood-defining public spaces, and it's close to blowing its final chances at putting in parks before there's no space left.

Oleksiak sees public spaces as one of her three central missions for Mount Vernon Triangle. "What does a public space look like?" she asks. "Where do people gather, where do they play, where do they meet? I’m excited to take on that challenge."

Oleksiak believes parks in Capitol Riverfront are "what made the community what it is," and she's confident there's still time to bring them to Mount Vernon Triangle. "I don’t think it’s too late. NoMa just proved that. They’ve been advocating for five years now for park space, and it’s finally happening. It’s going to take hard work, but there’s going to be options."

So what about the other two missions? One is any BID/CID's central role, keeping the neighborhood safe and clean. The other is "telling the story and strengthening the vision" of the neighborhood. Right now, I'd wager that most Washingtonians couldn't tell you exactly where Mount Vernon Triangle is. Oleksiak hopes to define the neighborhood with events that draw both Mount Vernon Triangle residents and people from around the city, and possibly partnerships with nearby events like the Capital Fringe Festival.

And what of the neighborhood's name, defined by the three avenues (Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey) that border it rather than any local characteristics? "Right now I think we’re going to be sticking with the name," Oleksiak says, "but who knows?"

Photo from the Mount Vernon Triangle press release

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    Why change the name? Who brought that one up?

  • Scott

    The small park wedges off of Mt Vernon Square could be so much nicer. I hope Claire is successful in getting some form of partnership with NPS to make these great spaces. Mt. Vernon Square itself has tons of opportunities.

  • Realist

    Mount Vernon Square will never have nice parks as long as there are large numbers of smelly drunks throwing chicken bones everywhere. And then there's the person who is trying to turn the wedge park on NY Avenue into a haven for feral cats displaced by neighborhood gentrification.

  • dan maceda

    DMPED has no intention of providing parks or play spaces as evidenced by their RFI for 5th and I . Further they are planning to give property on 3rd st across I St from My Carmel Baptist Church to the church by the end of the year according to an email . The negotiation and terms are confidential and obviously complicated as they have been going on since before the MVT Plan issued in 2003 as it showed the property allocated to Mt Carmel. The delay of course has allowed Mt Carmel to use the lot tax exempt and free for parking. The other property on 3rd St identified as a sliver is used by the Meyer Mayer building for parking also free and tax exempt. It is identified as a sliver although the land is listed at 12,282 sq ft with an assessed valuation of over 3 million dollars. This plot is designated for the Wilkes Co.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0wdr_awb9M Seeking Ordination Into The Holy Priesthood…

    My family and I are planning to take a trip to Virginia this summer. We are driving from Iowa to Virginia. We hate driving in traffic and big cities (what can you expect from someone from Iowa, right? Especially since we're farmers) The problem is, we really want to go to Washington' home near Alexandria. I've heard some pretty frightening accounts of the way people drive out east. Is there away we poor Iowa farmers can avoid the heavy traffic to get to Mount Vernon? We are heading from the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania direction.
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  • Catherine

    Hey Claire, congratulations from an "old" friend back home! I'll be really interested to see what you are able do with this challenge.

  • Anna

    I really hope so. I love this area. I think it is a great location. Really convenient.

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