With all the attention given to The Yards Park these past few weeks, development on two of the Waterfront area’s smaller green spaces has gone largely overlooked.
About a hundred people gathered on Water Street SW yesterday evening to attend the opening ceremony for 7th Street Landing, a “temporary park” that will occupy the modest flat stretch between Zanzibar and the Channel Inn, looking out on the Anacostia River until its slated closing in mid-October.
Modeled on sites in Paris, short-lived parks boost public optimism in the area while more permanent local projects gestate, according to Tyson Pitzer, director of investments at Madison Marquette, the District-based real estate company that helmed the venture along with PN Hoffman. In D.C., temporary uses are popping up at stalled developments all over the place, from the former Bruce Monroe school site to Rosslyn’s CenterSpace to movies on the parking lot at 5th and I street NW.
Made up to look like some semblance of a beach – with sand thrown down under a score of yellow lounge chairs and tables with umbrellas, all flanked by a few trees – 7th Street Landing will host jazz concerts each Thursday, food trucks each Friday (District Taco, DC Slices and Sidewalk Sweetsations all showed up for the opening festivities) and yoga sessions on Saturdays. This will go on, Pitzer said, for five or six weeks, after which construction will ostensibly begin on the several hundred housing units and retail spots that the companies have planned for the Waterfront.
A couple blocks away, on Sixth and I streets SW, a much older and quieter park has been enjoying a long-overdue tune-up. Opened in 1972, Town Center Park West fills up a square block with greenery and a pond meant to attract wildlife. But it had gotten filthy. In April, a group of Southwest residents achieved “partner” status from the Department of Parks and Recreation, and set about forming a plan to clean and restore the space.
Bob Craycraft, coordinator of Neighbors for Town Center Park West, said that he hopes his organization can complete its short-term goal of cleaning the park by Oct. 23, when Arena Stage is supposed to open across the street. (Restoration, he admitted, will take at least a year to begin.)
The group has already repaired the Town Center Park West’s drainage system, which had not been cleared since 2007, and to which some believe a 2009 outbreak of the West Nile Virus could be traced.
It also convinced the city to hire a contractor that works with decorative ponds, instead of the pool company it had previously employed, to maintain the park’s fountain – which with any luck would help attract waterfowl back to the park, and maybe even make it habitable for fish once again.
“You never see more than two ducks at a time,” said Craycraft, “when there used to be several dozen years ago.”