Building and Sustaining Strong Waterfront Neighborhoods
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Washington, DC now enjoys a range of exciting urban waterfront communities in new and existing neighborhoods strengthened with investment and amenities. A growing number of residents live, work, play, and connect in transit-oriented waterfront neighborhoods, while an increasing number of visitors experience the waterfront for business, recreation, and entertainment.
Absorbing a Growing Downtown
The Anacostia waterfront was intentionally planned as an extension of the city’s Central Business District to capture commercial and job growth beyond the existing downtown. The fastest-growing neighborhoods in the District are on the Anacostia waterfront, and much of this growth has been achieved through leveraging public land and large sites for new mixed-use, transit-oriented development. Land development along Capitol Riverfront, especially at Buzzard Point, is moving faster than anticipated. Commercial projects led the initial development surge at the waterfront, which has now shifted to increased residential construction.
Housing and Inclusive Neighborhoods
Anacostia waterfront neighborhoods are among the fastest growing in the District, expanding with new homes which include replacement and new affordable housing as well as housing for older adults. New infill development has also been a powerful engine for delivering additional amenities and services in existing neighborhoods.
A Waterfront that Works
More than 100,000 people now work along the waterfront for a diverse collection of government and private sector employers. Historic military facilities retain a strong employment presence at the Washington Navy Yard and Fort McNair. Waterfront locations are expected to continue to attract top talent and were featured prominently in the District’s proposal for Amazon’s HQ2. The District government is leading by example, locating thousands of government employees within waterfront neighborhoods in recent years near Metrorail, including at the Waterfront, Navy Yard, Anacostia, and Minnesota Avenue stations. These government offices occupy newly constructed public buildings or serve as anchor tenants in new commercial and mixed-use developments.
The Power of Parks
New and improved parks contribute to Anacostia waterfront neighborhoods in three powerful ways: adding economic value to new development through recreation and programming; ensuring the waterfront remains a family-friendly destination; and providing environmental resilience to mitigate flooding and the impacts of climate change. Canal Park, Yards Park, Diamond Teague Park, and the Wharf Park are linked to new developments, providing neighborhood amenities for existing and new waterfront residents, workers, and visitors. Longstanding federal park and open space assets, from Langston Golf Course to the National Arboretum and Anacostia Park, are experiencing reinvestment, including plans for stronger connections to adjacent communities. The District has led a sustained capital campaign to renovate existing recreation centers on both sides of the river, an important foundation for maintaining vibrant neighborhoods.
Connected Neighborhoods
With new and improved public parks, additions to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail system, reconstructed multi-modal bridges, more transit options, and a water taxi crossing the Washington Channel, the Anacostia waterfront is accessible and connected to adjacent neighborhoods.
Riverfront Retail
Hundreds of new restaurants, bars, and cafes offer a range of dining experiences in waterfront neighborhoods. New retail will continue to bring enhanced shopping opportunities to waterfront neighborhoods, including at Park 7 (4058 Minnesota Avenue) and at Hill East as part of Phase 1 development.
Capitol Riverfront
As federal lands around the Navy Yard were released for redevelopment and the District built Nationals Park on the Anacostia waterfront, Capitol Riverfront emerged as one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the country. Nationals Park is a national model for a stadium as catalyst and anchor for neighborhood transformation and for thoughtfully integrating a major regional sporting destination into a high-density, urban neighborhood. In addition to attracting residents and visitors to baseball games, the stadium activates the neighborhood at all times of the day and year, with locally oriented programming like Opera in the Outfield. The 2018 opening of Audi Field in Buzzard Point, Capitol Riverfront’s western section, replicates this model of growing an amenity-rich neighborhood anchored by a new stadium destination. Quality of life in Capitol Riverfront has continued to improve for residents and workers pouring into the area as new parks and public spaces host regional events and provide respite and recreation year-round. This activity is supported in large part by the leadership of the Capitol Riverfront BID, which maintains and activates public spaces with festivals, concerts, and outdoor movies. As a result, the BID estimates that the Capitol Riverfront hosted 2.8 million visitors in 2016.
Downtown Ward 7
New mixed-use developments have brought transit-accessible jobs, housing, and retail to the Parkside and Minnesota-Benning neighborhoods, while both public and private investments strengthen the connections and opportunities in the community. The Minnesota-Benning Government Center and neighboring Park 7 Apartments have brought more than 450 jobs and 376 homes to the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station area. Meanwhile, Educare in Parkside is a $16 million state-of-the-art school that provides early childhood education aimed at closing the achievement gap for children from low-income households. Broadband internet for the site is provided by a grant from DC-Net. Construction continues, with 191 workforce housing and multi-family units breaking ground in 2018 at Parkside Parcel 11. Since 2016, a new four-mile segment of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail completed a continuous 40-mile network throughout the Anacostia River Watershed. The trail connects Parkside with District neighborhoods via existing segments south of Benning Road while providing more direct access to nature along the Anacostia River. Downtown Ward 7 neighborhoods will have stronger connections to employment opportunities and District amenities with the future Benning Road streetcar extension, better pedestrian bridges over Kenilworth Avenue, and a new pedestrian bridge across the Anacostia River to the National Arboretum.
The preservation and creation of affordable housing is a citywide priority that, when applied to the Anacostia waterfront, is a key strategy to ensure a more equitable future for established and new neighborhoods. Since 2010, land owned or controlled by the District within the Anacostia Waterfront Development Zone is required to provide at least 30 percent affordable housing units to moderate- and low-income households. This emphasis on housing has catalyzed more than 4,500 new and replacement affordable units along the riverfront. Additionally, in 2019, the District will open a new short-term family housing program in Southwest to support families experiencing homelessness.
Food Access
Longtime and newer residents in areas such as Southwest and Capitol Riverfront have gained full-service grocery stores, community gardens, and other neighborhood amenities generated by public and private investment along the Anacostia waterfront.
Neighborhoods along the Anacostia River have seen improved connections to and along the waterfront through a more complete street network with better bike and pedestrian access. In the future, waterfront neighborhoods will be better connected across the Anacostia River through improved roadways, the extended Benning Road Streetcar line, and bike-pedestrian connections. The highly anticipated Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge Project, which broke ground in Winter of 2018, will facilitate multimodal transportation options across the river.
The Anacostia waterfront has seen increased investment in public amenities in existing communities, especially east of the Anacostia River. In addition to improved and new playgrounds, parks, and recreational centers in waterfront neighborhoods, trail connections to and along the river from Kenilworth and South Capitol Street have opened access to one of the District’s greatest natural amenities.
Inclusive Prosperity
The development of new office space is bringing established companies and District and federal agencies to the Anacostia waterfront as well as incubating independent entrepreneurship and startup ventures. New development also brings construction employment opportunities. Phase I of The Wharf generated several hundred construction jobs, and 30 percent of apprenticeship opportunities were designated for District residents in Wards 7 and 8. The current construction of the Frederick Douglass Bridge also has substantial targets for training and employment of District residents.
Building Equity into our Neighborhoods
Resurgence of the Anacostia Waterfront