Tuesday, January 04, 2005

DC Ballpark Neighborhood

SuperNoVa and girlfriend made a loop around the site of the proposed D.C. Ballpark on New Year's Day, hoping to find some plots of land or existing housing stock for the purposes of possibly moving to the neighborhood around the ballpark.

Here's what we found: nothing. And I just came across this Web site, which pretty accurately portrays how run down this area is. One of the pictures describes a "surprisingly well-tended house on the southwest corner of Half and N streets." Yes, I saw that house, too - it's pretty much the only house I saw in decent condition in the stadium area....and this is the neighborhood that put up so much opposition? I think the better answer is that the night clubs / gentlemen's establishments in the area were the real opposition.

Across South Capitol Street in SW D.C., the housing stock is a little better, but is largely smaller apartment buildings and what appears to be public housing stock. (As a side note, concentrated public housing is a really, really bad idea...let's put all the poor people in one place, so that we can blame them for not making the social connections necessary to move up the ladder!). The proposed move of Fannie Mae to Southwest should help, but this area still needs a lot of work. It's underserved by the Metro rail network (which runs along M street and ignores SouthWest otherwise). An extra stop on the Yellow Line in SouthWest (if feasible) would be useful.

All in all, the DC Stadium, when it opens in 2008, will be in an area that needs a lot of work. I really hope that the Stadium is the impetus for that change and the rewards from the Stadium as a catalyst to growth flow back to the City. But the Stadium area is a 20-year project, not a quick turn around like Baltimore or Cleveland.


At 12:51 PM, Blogger DM said...

Good post, SNV. Though to clarify, I think you meant to say that SW is underserved by Metro, not the ballpark, which should be only a couple of blocks from the Navy Yard station. The site is also good for car traffic, as it is just a few blocks from I-295/I-395, like Camden Yards.

It will be interesting to see which pattern this ballpark follows. From what I've read, Seattle's SafeCo field has not done as well as expected, apparently because it was placed in a similar neighborhood as SE. (You've been there, right? What did you think?). This location will be a good test of the hypothesis, that's for sure.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Yuda said...

I don't know that another stop on the Yellow line could really fit in Southwest. The only place where a station could go would be in Potomac Park -- which, while that might not be a bad idea, wouldn't help with neighborhood development.

There's not really room for another Green stop either -- it's already only a few blocks between Waterfront and L'Enfant Plaza.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger Yuda said...

I should add that the District is planning to build -- and has passed funding for -- light rail in the city. It's largely going to service Southeast (across the river) and Georgetown, but there's going to be some stops in Southwest, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more focus on SW with the stadium going there, now.

I remember seeing a map of the planned system in the Post about a year or year and a half ago, but I can't seem to find it on their site now.

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took a drive around the site (about 10 blocks) recently, too. I was surprised by how many different uses are going on in this area and how disjointed it appears in its physical fabric: small machine shops and auto repair, sex-related uses, and other by-products of what appears to be an industrial zoning designation. Appears to be very little housing in the immediate 10-block area. And numerous vacant lots- some of which are clearly used for parking for the clubs. The most striking physical feature of the area to me was the separation from the neighborhoods to the north, the massive barrier presented by the freeway. Also the grade separation on South Capitol seemed like another strong north-south barrier. Regardless of what one thinks about the stadium project and redevelopment, it will be a challenge for any architect or urban designer to connect to the surrounding nieghborhoods or create the kind of retail environment (for better or worse) touted by those have promoted the plan. But maybe that is the (largely unspoken) advantage of this site to some planners- the opportunity to undertake a "clean slate" approach. Urban revitalization, whatever that is, seems unlikely here, more like total redevelopment mega-project.

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Yuda said...

In some ways, the freeway isn't as big of a barrier as it seems -- there's a lot of places you can pass over or under it on foot. But it's definitely a barrier to a lot of auto traffic, unless you go all the way over to 4th St. SW. Although really I think part of the idea of the stadium is to revitalize the whole area between the mall and the Anacostia.


Post a Comment

<< Home